Construction of Obama Presidential Center Suspended After Noose Found at Site, $100,000 Reward Declared to Help Find Culprits

Construction at the new Obama Presidential Center in Chicago came to an abrupt halt after the discovery of a noose at the site on Thursday.

Lakeside Alliance, a Black-owned construction firm behind the $830 million legacy project, expressed horror over the incident and declared a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the person or people behind the shameful act.

It said the noose was discovered in the morning hours. Construction operations have been suspended to allow conversations with staff about the incident and provide anti-bias training to workers.

Barack Obama
Obama Foundation

Lakeside Alliance emphasized that it has zero tolerance for any form of bias or hate on its worksite. The firm remains committed to providing a work environment where everyone can feel safe, be their best self, and is treated with dignity and respect.

Noose is a Symbol of Hate

A noose is more than a loop end of a rope. It tightens as it is run. A noose sends shivers up the spine as it's a reminder of the horrors of racism, hatred and injustice towards African Americans. In some American states such as California, New York and Louisiana, the appearance of a noose immediately qualifies the crime to be charged as a hate crime. The Obama Foundation described the finding of the noose at the construction site as a shameful act of cowardice and hate designed to get attention and divide.

Jack Shuler, an associate professor at Denison University and author of The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose, sees the noose as much more than a knot in the rope. "The noose was a tool used to kill people and therefore, it is a threat – it is violent speech," he said. "The noose has become the new burning cross."


Gov. J.B Pritzker condemned the act of hate. He tweeted that hate has no place in Illinois. "This 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. Mayor Lori Lightfoot described the incident as disturbing and repulsive. "Racism and racist symbols have no place in Chicago and those inciting it will be held responsible for this repulsive."

Obama Presidential Center to Open on 2025

Construction for the Obama Presidential Center began in 2021 and is slated to open in 2025. The facility will attract around 750,000 visitors a year. The Center will sit on 19 acres of the 540-acre of Jackson Park. According to the Obama Foundation, the Center will commemorate and preserve materials from Barack Obama's presidency. It will include a museum, a plaza, a rooftop garden and a new branch of the Chicago Public Library among other features.

This article was first published on November 11, 2022