Last week, someone placed a full-sized hangman’s noose above the production line at the American Beverage Co. in Verona. The company is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
In a written statement, spokesman Mike Bartlett said, “The union and company are investigating the matter. We take this very seriously. We’re going to be interviewing people. Hopefully, someone will identify the party responsible. And if we determine who they are, they will be terminated.”
Alvin Wallace, an employee who spoke to KDKA-TV about this incident on July 14, said he has since been disciplined by his union for doing so.
“They snapped out over there. There’s a racist faction that’s out of control,” he said.
Wallace said he was contacted after a co-worker had sent a photo of the noose to KDKA reporter Ralph Ionati.
“People were coming to me for answers. I was the chair of the employees’ civil rights committee, I agreed to talk,” said Wallace. “The next day I was going to a meeting of the committee to discuss this noose incident and my union boss backed me out of the meeting and said I wasn’t the chair anymore.”
Wallace said he didn’t think the noose was meant for him specifically, but intended to intimidate all the company’s Black employees. Roughly 100 of the plant’s 500 employees are African-Americans, he said. The company primarily produces products for the Daily’s Juice Co.
“We’ve got to find out who did this and get this resolved quickly,” he said. “They’re sending out a real hate message that’s permeating through the whole plant, and the Blacks in the plant are real apprehensive.
Bartlett did not return calls for an update on the investigation.
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