Ex-Worker Calls Noose Incident An Overblown, 'Stupid Prank'
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The day after he was fired because of an incident involving a noose found at the Washington Nationals stadium construction site, Stephen White said it was a "stupid little prank" that has been blown out of proportion.
White, 48, who had worked for Truland Systems, an electrical subcontractor, said no racial overtones were intended.
He said that no African Americans were involved and that none were in the vicinity.
White said a co-worker threw a tied rope to him and said, "Steve, I made you a necktie."
"I threw it back at him," White said. "I guess it fell on the floor. I got fired because somebody put a noose together to put around my neck."
White said he never picked it up and did not know whether the co-worker had.
A Maryland resident who started the stadium job this week, White said he has worked for Truland for four years.
Truland officials fired a second man involved in the incident yesterday. His name has not been released, but White said it was the co-worker who threw him the noose. He said they had worked together for more than 20 years.
The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which owns the ballpark, said it is investigating.
"Our preliminary indicators are that at least four African Americans saw the noose and reported it," said Matthew D. Cutts, chairman of the commission.
"We are continuing to investigate the facts as well as the motives behind the noose placement." During a year when the discovery of nooses at a high school in Jena, La., and at the University of Maryland in College Park have sparked national debate and protests, the stadium incident drew immediate reaction.
D.C. Council member Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, which oversees the sports commission, said he will hold a hearing next week. He plans to meet today with officials from the sports commission and Clark/Hunt/Smoot, the joint venture building the ballpark.
"I want answers now," Brown said in a written statement.
"This is an outrage. I will fight tooth and nail to discover the truth of what happened."
Brown said he is considering a measure that would restrict the city from awarding contracts to companies with proven histories of discrimination. "Hate crimes will not be tolerated," he said.