A noose has been found at the Obama Presidential Center construction site in Chicago, bringing a temporary halt to the building work.
Chicago police are investigating after the looped piece of rope was found on Thursday, in a racist act that has been widely condemned.
The noose is a symbol for the lynching of thousands of former slaves and their descendants who were hunted down, killed, and often hung from trees in the Jim Crow period following the end of slavery in the United States in 1865.
“This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us,” the Obama Foundation said, according to NBC News.
“Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident.”
Governor of Illinois JB Pritzker wrote on Twitter: “Hate has no place in Illinois. The noose is more than a symbol of racism, it is a heart-stopping reminder of the violence and terror inflicted on Black Americans for centuries.
“I condemn this act of hate in the strongest possible terms, and the state of Illinois will make all needed resources available to help catch the perpetrators.”
A $100,000 reward has been offered to help catch those responsible, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The incident led to a temporary halt in construction, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing the construction consortium that is building the centre.
“The Chicago Police Department is aware of this matter, and it is under investigation,” police spokesperson Alex Aguas said in an email.
The noose was reported to police by the Lakeside Alliance, a construction team of black-owned companies that is building the Obama Presidential Center, which will be a museum and public gathering space commemorating Barack and Michelle Obama, the first African-American president and first lady.
Construction on the site began in 2021 and the centre is due to open in 2025.