Government employee taunts black coworker with paper noose

(Photo: Juvenile Justice System/Macomb Daily)

A white Michigan government employee was suspended after confessing to taunting a black coworker with a noose made out of toilet paper and tape, but the Michigan Advocacy Coalition is calling for the employee’s termination and prosecution.

The woman who was the target of the racist taunting, Andrea Brown, had returned early from a shift break at the Juvenile Justice Center to find the tissue paper object, which depicted someone being hanged from a noose, behind her chair.

According to the Macomb Daily, Brown complained to her supervisor, and the department conducted an investigation into the matter.

Two months later, Brown received a letter saying that the investigation had concluded. “Based upon this investigation, the County was unable to corroborate a violation of County policy; however an unprofessional exchange did occur,” wrote Service Director Karen Bathanti.

But Brown persisted and contacted the coalition, and Greg Murray, the coalition’s executive director, went with her to the sheriff’s department to file a criminal complaint. The FBI got involved, though it’s not clear the extent of their involvement, before, at last, on March 3, Brown was informed that a county employee had confessed to leaving the noose for her to find. She was also told that the employee was placed on administrative leave, but both Murray and Brown felt that it was not enough.

“We have been told that employee has been placed on administrative leave, which is not an appropriate response to a self-confessed hate crime. We find it perplexing and outrageous that the person who committed this heinous hate crime has not yet been fired and charged with a hate crime,” Murray said.

“We want this person to feel the full weight and power of the prosecutorial process. We are asking the Justice Department to review this hate crime. There should be zero tolerance for this horrible act of intimidation,” she added.

Macomb County Deputy Executive Mark Deldin has since responded, explaining, “Even though he admitted guilt, before we discipline or prosecute him we want the investigation to be complete,” and adding, “There have been no problems with him in the past.”

“The Executive’s Office takes a complete zero tolerance approach to any type of intimidation or harassment in the workplace and encourages anyone to come forward,” Deldin added.


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