Noose found at Obama Presidential Center construction site

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CHICAGO — The company that built the Obama Presidential Center suspended operations Thursday after a noose was found at the site, offering a $100,000 reward to help find out who was responsible.

Lakeside Alliance, a partnership of construction companies owned by Black, said it has reported the incident to police and will provide “any assistance needed to identify those responsible.”

“We do not tolerate any form of bias or hatred in our workplace. Anti-bias training is included in our onboarding process and is repeated in meetings across the site. We are suspending all on-site activities in order to provide a new series of these trainings and talks to all staff and employees,” the company said.

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The foundation of former President Barack Obama has also released a statement.

“This blatant act of cowardice and hatred is intended to gain attention and divide us. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our staff,” the statement said.

Chicago Police Department is aware of the noose and the matter is under investigation, said Sgt. Rocco Alioto, a department spokesperson.

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An alliance spokeswoman, Lara Cooper, said she couldn’t say if it suspects an employee at the site and how the break will affect work.

The city’s pre-construction work began in the spring of 2021 with the official groundbreaking construction in September.

The foundation has said the center is expected to open in 2025. The organizers expect it to attract about 750,000 visitors a year.

It will be located on 7.7 acres of the 540-acre Jackson Park, named after the nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson. Significantly, it will be located near the Obama family home and where the former president began his political career on the south side of town.

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The city will own the center under the terms of a 2018 ordinance approved by the Chicago City Council.

The initial cost was estimated at $500 million, but documents released by the Obama Foundation last summer showed the cost had risen to about $830 million. Money is raised through private donations.