A noose was found at the Obama Presidential Center construction site in Chicago on Thursday, prompting the team overseeing the project to suspend work on the site.
The Lakeside Alliance, a joint venture of construction companies working at the center, said in a statement that they had reported the incident to police and “will provide any assistance necessary to identify those responsible.”
The group is offering a $100,000 reward for providing information to those responsible, their statement read, adding that they have “zero tolerance for any form of prejudice or hatred in our workplace.”
“We will suspend all on-site operations to provide another series of such training and conversations for all employees and workers,” the statement read, citing anti-bias training as part of its onboarding process. “We are appalled that this is happening on our site… Lakeside Alliance remains committed to providing a work environment where everyone can feel safe, be their best selves, and be treated with dignity and respect.”
The Obama Foundation also released a statement saying they had notified authorities.
“This outrageous act of cowardice and hatred is designed to draw attention and divide us. Our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our employees,” the foundation’s statement read.
The Chicago Police Department told CNN they were “aware of this and are investigating.”
The Obama Presidential Center was first announced in 2015, when the Barack Obama Foundation officially stated that Chicago’s South Side would be the location for the project. The former president also considered using his birthplace, Honolulu, Hawaii, as a library, but Chicago, long a library favorite, won.
The center will serve as the foundation’s headquarters and presidential library.
Obama chose Chicago because — as he put it in a 2015 video announcing his choice — it’s where “all the parts of my life come together.” He noted that his political career began in the city where he and Michelle Obama met.
However, the project has been slowed down by lawsuits and some local complaints. In 2019, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to block the construction of the library in Jackson Park, saying construction should begin immediately. The lawsuit was brought by environmentalists who have challenged the use of public land for private projects.
The Obamas finally broke ground on the center in September 2021. They were joined by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Governor of Illinois. JB Pritzker.