Thursday, November 29, 2007

Racist Connecticut?

Three Nooses Found In West Hartford
Incident In Stamford Could Be Connected

By DANIEL P. JONES | Courant Staff Writer
November 28, 2007

WEST HARTFORD — - Three nooses have been found hanging at locations in West Hartford, and police are looking into the possibility of a connection to a similar episode in Stamford.

In two of the incidents, one on Monday and the other Nov. 19, construction workers at the Blue Back Square development found the nooses. The third noose was found at Home Depot on New Park Avenue.

The general contractor on the Blue Back Square job is Turner Construction Co., which is based in New York City. On the day that the first noose was discovered at Blue Back — Nov. 19 — nine nooses were found at a Turner construction site in Stamford, West Hartford police said.

News reports indicate that an employee of one of the subcontractors working for Turner at the Royal Bank of Scotland site in Stamford may have been the target of the attacks.

Capt. Lori Coppinger, a West Hartford Police Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that detectives are operating on the assumption that a construction worker, or workers, probably hung the nooses.

With the same company working at the West Hartford and Stamford sites, she said, police are investigating whether there is a connection between the incidents in the two communities.

Police are looking into whether any employees worked at both sites, and whether workers at Blue Back might have gone to Home Depot to buy supplies.

There have been several similar incidents in Connecticut this year.

A noose was left in the bag of a black cadet aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's training ship, Eagle. A second noose was found in early August on the floor of the office of a white female officer who had been conducting race relations training at the academy in New London in response to the first incident.

In November, a noose was discovered under the police cruiser of a black Bridgeport officer, prompting an investigation.

A suspended noose typically is a symbol of bigotry toward blacks, a painful reminder of lynchings. Police said no graffiti or writing was found near the nooses.

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka quickly condemned the incidents.

"It's despicable, and it's cowardly," he said. "And it's particularly shameful if it's at all done with the intent of intimidating a minority worker from pursuing employment or from pursuing minority contracts."

Officials at Turner could not be reached for comment Tuesday. They released a statement after the incidents in Stamford, saying the company has a zero tolerance policy for harassment, news reports say.

In the Nov. 19 incident at Blue Back Square in West Hartford, a noose was found hanging from the ceiling in one of the buildings in the development, police said.

In Monday's incident, a Turner worker found a noose hanging from a pipe about 12 feet up in the parking garage at 20 Isham Road, police said.

Also on Nov. 19, a worker at Home Depot on New Park Avenue found a small cord fashioned into a slipknot hanging from the ceiling in a public restroom, police said.

Contact Daniel P. Jones at dpjones@courant.com.

Copyright © 2007, The Hartford Courant

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