The discovery of a noose at a South Jersey construction site by two African-American workers has sparked an official police investigation.
On February 26, Vance Thorpe, 46, and his co-worker Kyle Winters, 43, both of Delaware, say they were working at a NIPRO Glass construction site in Millville, New Jersey. After returning from lunch, Thorpe claims he saw a noose hanging on the wall he and Wilson had been working on.
“It was disheartening,” said Thorpe, who, along with Winters, is African-American. “It took a piece of me.”
The men took a photo and then reported the incident to their supervisor at Access Labor Services, a construction and industrial temporary service based in Delaware.
The men told Delaware Online that they asked their supervisor if they could be assigned to another site. The men claimed however that the supervisor told them they couldn’t move them since it was under short notice and asked them to continue for another few days.
Winters decided not to return.
“They didn’t do nothing,” Winters said. “They told us to go back. I wasn’t going to go back.”
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Thorpe stayed on for another week and a half to finish the work. Thorpe claims the only reason he didn’t quit was because he needed to support his newborn son.
Both men eventually filed a complaint with police.
Kurt Van Dal, the president of NIPRO Glass Americas, made the following statement regarding the incident:
This alleged incident was first made known to NIPRO on Friday March 7. NIPRO has not been contacted by any of the individuals alleged to be affected, nor by the local Police.
Even though NIPRO's only involvement in this alleged incident is that it has been described as occurring on a NIPRO job site preliminarily understood to be at a removed furnace tank location, where none of the workers are NIPRO employees, and where the construction workers referenced appear to be independent contractors or employees of a temporary employment agency hired by a sub contractor of the general contractor hired by NIPRO for the furnace construction. The allegations, if true, are contrary to NIPRO’s policies and rules, in addition to being contrary to training that is provided to all contractors hired by NIPRO. Therefore, NIPRO is contacting the investigating Police Department, the outside general contractor, their sub-contractor, and the temporary agency involved in the work to assure that a full and proper investigation is being conducted, and that any necessary, appropriate steps are taken.
NIPRO does not and will not condone any such acts as alleged on its property, and is acting to assure that firm policy is understood and complied with by any outside contractors and their workers on NIPRO property.
Millville Police are currently investigating and say the culprits could be charged with harassment, bias and intimidation. Meanwhile, Thorpe continues to provide for his young son, whom he hopes will never experience the racism that he believes he and his co-worker faced.
“I’m worried about my safety and possibly my life,” Thorpe said. “Then I started to get offended. Because I’m like for real? 2014? They’re doing this?”