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Anderson Construction launches investigation into hate symbol, vows stronger anti-harassment training for workers.

PMG PHOTO: STEPHANIE BASALYGA - Work continues to progress on the Fourth & Montgombery project in downtown Portland. Portland State University and Andersen Construction spoke out and vowed to investigate a noose found on the construction site in May. An independent investigation is looking into discovery of a noose in mid-May on a construction site at the Fourth & Montgomery building project in downtown Portland.

Portland State University called attention to the incident in a statement Tuesday, June 23, noting that the site was home of a future 175,000-square-foot, seven-story joint facility being built by PSU, Portland Community College and Oregon Health & Science University.

According to the university, the noose was found on May 20 in a construction zone at the Fourth and Montgomery Building near Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street downtown. PSU was notified about the noose on June 9. The project's contractor, Andersen Construction, has since filed a report with Portland Police Bureau. Private firm Kyle Abraham Investigations is looking in the incident, according to Andersen Construction.

"This act of hatred is heartbreaking," according to a PSU statement about the incident. "It is reprehensible. And it is particularly troubling at a moment when our country seems to be waking up — finally — to the legacy of slavery and our collective failure to address anti-Black racism. Incidents like this one, and similar incidents happening around the country, remind us how deeply racism is embedded in our culture and how far we have to go to attain justice for Black Americans."

PSU noted that each of the educational partners involved in the project was "deeply committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive workplace."

The noose was found just five days before the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis that sparked weeks of nationwide outrage and protests over racial injustice.

'Negative emotions'

Representatives for Andersen Construction were unavailable for interviews. The company issued a statement, saying it was "disgusted and outraged" at the discovery of the hate symbol on one of its construction sites. "We acknowledge the negative emotions and outright pain this abhorrent event caused and to the individuals at our project directly impacted, and to our Black community at large, we are so very sorry," according to the company.

In addition to the police report and the independent investigation, Anderson Construction officials said the company was investigating the incident internally, "with the intent to learn who placed this hate symbol, who might have also been involved, and to ensure that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law and disallowed from ever working on an Andersen project in the future, regardless of who this person's (or persons) employer is."

Andersen also vowed to include more robust anti-harassment and anti-racism training, as well as bolstered education and mental health support services for its employees.


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