CHICAGO– The company building the Obama Presidential Center suspended operations Thursday after a noose was found at the site, and it offered a $100,000 reward to help find who was responsible.
Lakeside Alliance, a partnership of black-owned construction companies, said it reported the incident to police and “will provide all assistance necessary to identify those responsible.”
“We have zero tolerance for any form of prejudice or hatred on our site. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and reiterated at site-wide meetings. We are suspending all on-site operations to provide another round of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers,” the company said.
Former President Barack Obama’s foundation also released a statement.
“This shameless act of cowardice and hatred is designed to draw attention and divide us. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our staff,” the statement said.
The Chicago Police Department is aware of the vise and the matter is being investigated, said Sgt. Rocco Alioto, department spokesperson.
An alliance spokeswoman, Lara Cooper, said she could not say whether she suspected a worker at the site and how the break would affect work.
The city’s work to prepare for construction began in the spring of 2021 with the first official ground breaking the following September.
The foundation said the center is expected to open in 2025. Organizers expect it to attract around 750,000 visitors a year.
It will span 19 acres (7.7 hectares) of the 540 acres (291 hectares) of Jackson Park, named after the country’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson. Significantly, it will be located near the Obama family home and where the former president began his political career in the city’s Southside neighborhood.
The city will own the center under a 2018 ordinance approved by the Chicago City Council.
The initial cost was estimated at $500 million, but documents released by the Obama Foundation last summer showed the cost had ballooned to around $830 million. Funds are raised through private donations.