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Nooses Mar Construction Of Windsor Amazon Warehouse

Construction of the Amazon warehouse building in Windsor, Conn., is shown on June 3, 2021.
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Construction of the Amazon warehouse building in Windsor, Conn., is shown on June 3, 2021.

Since April 27, eight nooses have been discovered at the construction site of an Amazon warehouse in Windsor. While Amazon and the companies it has hired to build the massive fulfillment site try to find out who’s responsible for the nooses, local Black social justice leaders are criticizing the e-commerce giant’s efforts.

This symbol of hate stresses out Keren Prescott. It reminds her of lynchings, like ones preceding something that happened 100 years ago this week: the Tulsa massacre.

“Many of our brothers and sisters hung from nooses like the ones that were left here at Amazon,” Prescott said.

Prescott and other advocates gathered outside the construction site a day after the latest rope was found -- the eighth in a month -- chanting “We march, we fight, we die.”

Two protesters, including Cornell Lewis, chained themselves to a gate.

“We’re chained to this fence, and we want to know what is Amazon going to do?” Lewis said.

Brad Griggs, senior manager of economic development for Amazon, said the company ordered the shutdown after the seventh noose was found.

“When we ordered the shutdown of this construction site, we did so after really pushing our developers and the general contractor to take control of this situation,” Griggs said.

Though Amazon issued the order, Griggs said his company doesn’t take over the site until it’s open for business.

“While we believe things were being managed appropriately -- looking back -- we could’ve stepped in to assess the situation and understand what steps were being taken maybe a little bit earlier,” Griggs said.

He said Amazon is reevaluating its partnership with the developer, Scannell Properties, and the contractor.

“There is certainly a lot of pressure on us to step up and ensure that we’ve got all of the safety procedures in place,” said Tim Elam, managing director of Scannell Properties. “We continue to work with Amazon and our general contractor RC Andersen to address and resolve the ongoing issues.”

Neil Ascione, a vice president at RC Andersen, said he enjoys working with Amazon and believes the feeling is mutual.

“RC Andersen enjoys its association with Amazon for many reasons, not the least of which being how rewarding it is to work for a company that shares a great moral code and strives every day to improve in furtherance of that code,” Ascione said in a written statement. “We expect that Amazon feels similarly about RC Andersen and we look forward to working with Amazon going forward.”

Windsor Police recently released a photo showing a rope at a construction site reported to them as a noose.
Windsor Police Department
Windsor Police recently released a photo showing a rope at a construction site reported to them as a noose.

While RC Andersen officially disputes that all of the ropes found can be classified as nooses, Ascione said his company is committed to finding out who placed them at the site. It’s working with law enforcement and has retained a former prosecutor to aid the investigation.

The parties are talking to Scot X. Esdaile of the NAACP. Amazon’s Griggs wants the NAACP to engage workers on their perspective and maybe help Amazon find a way forward.

As far as Esdaile is concerned, he’s not happy with any of the parties involved in securing the site.

“They’re all fumbling the ball.”

Esdaile said his primary concern is the safety of people working there.

“The most important thing is the individuals that are on the site that are scared,” Esdaile said. “They shouldn’t be scared. They should be able to give a hard day’s work and get home safe to their families.”

Workers found the nooses and then told their supervisors, who called local police.

On a given day, 400 to 600 people could be working the site, which is being developed into a warehouse capable of packing and shipping a million boxes a day.

“We’ve engaged a national specialty security firm that has taken over,” Elam said, “quarterbacking all security on the site to make it a safe and secure place to come to work.”

The Connecticut State Police and FBI are now involved in finding out who did this.

Amazon, the developer and the contractor are offering a $100,000 reward.

Copyright 2021 Connecticut Public Radio

Frankie Graziano joined CPBN in October of 2011 as a sports producer. In addition to reporting for WNPR, Graziano produces feature profiles for CPTV and the web.
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