Obama Presidential Center construction halted after noose found on site

ByEric Horng and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, November 11, 2022
Obama Center construction halted after noose found on site
Obama Presidential Center construction is suspended after builders found a noose at the site in what Lakeside Alliance called an "act of hate."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Construction of the Obama Presidential Center has been suspended after builders found a noose at the project site.

Lakeside Alliance, the company constructing the center, released a statement saying in part, "This morning we were informed that an act of hate was discovered at the project site. We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible."

The company said it has a zero tolerance policy for "any form of bias or hate on our worksite" and said it is suspending all operations for another series of anti-bias training and conversations for staff and workers.

A witness said police appeared to leave the construction site with a noose in a plastic bag.

"Especially at the Obama Center, Obama library, it was super shocking for sure," said Rico Pineda, works outside of Obama Center site.

Pineda said he was on another project on the outskirts of the site when he snapped photos of the initial police response.

"Just in my head I was like, man, how can somebody do something like this?" he said.

The company is also offering a $100,000 reward for information that would help find the person or persons responsible for putting the noose at the site.

Governor JB Pritzker said in a tweet that he condemns the "act of hate," adding that the state will help provide resources to catch the perpetrators.

"Hate has no place in Illinois. The noose is more than a symbol of racism, it is a heart-stopping reminder of the violence and terror inflicted on Black Americans for centuries," Pritzker also said.

The Obama Foundation released a statement, saying, "This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us. Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident."

The project's groundbreaking was delayed for years after a series of legal challenges over its use of public land, and criticism that it could force out longtime residents in the area. The groundbreaking was finally held in September 2021, when the Obama Presidential Center and Library was hailed as a beacon of progress, hope and inclusion.

Since then there has have been very few reported problems.

The Chicago Police Department is actively investigating the incident, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Lightfoot released a statement, saying in part, "This afternoon I was made aware of a disturbing, hateful incident that occurred near the Obama Presidential Library construction site. Racism and racist symbols have no place in Chicago, and those inciting it will be held responsible for this repulsive act."