Noose Found At Cleveland Construction Site Sparks Protest
Cleveland's construction industry still suffers from a lack of diversity and inclusion. This environment in Cleveland’s construction industry likely contributes to incidents like the cardboard cutout
In October, a construction crew working at a site in Cleveland found a cardboard cutout with a noose around its neck, reading “my motivation to work.”
Cleveland Construction, the company that was performing construction at the site, said that it was likely created by a sub-contracted worker. The company investigated but said that it was not racially motivated. According to another group of sub-contracted workers from O’s Versatility Construction, they are the group that discovered the cutout. A police report described racist remarks they had been making at the work site. For them, the display was the last straw. They never came back to the construction site.
Others in the construction industry in Cleveland, like Glen Shumate, the president of the Construction Employers Association, said that racism at construction sites in the city is commonplace. Shumate told News 5, “I have seen racial graffiti gender, directed graffiti negatively on construction sites.”
Shumate also indicated that training and education needed to occur as well as accountability, telling News 5, “Hate has no place and we need to increase equitable opportunities, fair and inclusive treatment, but also it’s some degree of accountability before those actions happen that there’s some training and education.”
Cleveland does have a committee dedicated to diversity and inclusion within the city’s construction industry, the City of Cleveland Construction Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The committee was formed in response to persistent racial and ethnic homogenizing in the construction industry as well as discrimination issues. However, according to Athena Nicole Last, a PhD Candidate in Sociology at Syracuse University, Cleveland’s construction industry still suffers from a lack of diversity and inclusion. This environment in Cleveland’s construction industry likely contributes to incidents like the cardboard cutout.
On November 20, 2023, members of Unity for the Betterment of Cleveland gathered on the steps of Cleveland City Hall to call for more equitable treatment of its Black construction workers.
Ariane Kirkpatrick, the CEO of The AKA Team, a full-service commercial construction company, said, “You decide you want to allow these types of things to happen on your job, or you want to say it’s a misunderstanding. I don’t see a misunderstanding with a noose written ‘my motivation to work’ because your motivation is building our motivation to make sure you aren’t on the site anymore.”
Cleveland Construction issued a response via a spokesperson, saying, “Therefore, although it does not appear, based on our initial investigation, that the alleged incident was motivated by any racial animus, we nevertheless requested that the individual involved not return to our project site. Furthermore, we immediately held a site-wide stand-down with everyone on [the] project site to reiterate and reinforce our zero-tolerance policy against any forms of racial discrimination or harassment, regardless of intent.”