The Y12 National Security Complex, shown here in February 2013.

The Y12 National Security Complex, shown here in February 2013. Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Noose Was Found at a Federal Facility in Tennessee

“A noose blatantly violates our policies and work rules and will not be tolerated,” said a spokesperson for the contractor that operates the facility.  

A noose was found recently at an Energy Department facility in Tennessee and the situation is now under investigation. 

The discovery was at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which is one of six production facilities in the nuclear security enterprise of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency of the Energy Department. The facility is managed and operated by the contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC and is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

“An employee recently discovered a noose in a lightly trafficked area of a building under construction. It was removed immediately,” Jason Bohne, spokesperson for the company and the site, told Government Executive. “We are committed to providing employees with a work environment that is free of harassment, intimidation, retaliation, and discrimination. A noose blatantly violates our policies and work rules and will not be tolerated.” 

Additionally, “we are conducting an extensive internal investigation, have increased inspections of work areas, and have notified the appropriate authorities,” Bohne continued. “We will take immediate and severe action toward any employee or subcontractor who is determined to have been involved in the incident.” 

Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., tweeted on Friday that “The FBI is investigating this despicable incident and I expect the report to be made public and anyone responsible will be prosecuted for any laws that were broken. This hatred cannot be tolerated anywhere, especially in Tennessee.”

Government Executive reached out to the FBI field office in Knoxville, Tennessee, which covers the Oak Ridge area, for comment, but they did not respond immediately. 

“The hangman's noose has come to be one of the most powerful visual symbols directed against African-Americans,” says the Anti-Defamation League. “Its origins are connected to the history of lynching in America, particularly in the South after the Civil War, when violence or threat of violence replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that whites used on African-Americans.” 

The Washington Post reported last year that since 2015 at least 55 nooses had been found at construction sites across 17 states plus the District of Columbia and Toronto and there was only one arrest made among those incidents. 

“Of the [construction] sector’s nearly 10.8 million workers, just 647,000 are Black, federal data show, a reflection of a steady decline that began during the Great Recession,” said the report. “While the sector is predominantly white — including 96% of all company owners — nearly a third of its workforce is Latino, a demographic category that refers to ethnicity, not race. Latino workers also are frequent targets of slurs and other harassment, Kelly said, but generally fare better than Black workers in terms of opportunity and advancement.”

The full picture of the Tennessee incident is still unclear as investigations are ongoing.