Police in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey are investigating who left a noose in a municipal trash truck to be discovered by an African-American employee.
Scott Henry, a laborer for the Atlantic County Utility Authority, discovered the noose in a trash truck he was assigned to work in on June 4.
The agency, which provides trash, recycling and sewer services to Atlantic County, has come under fire over allegations, first reported by the Press of Atlantic City, that it wasn’t doing enough to deal with the matter.
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Henry, told the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders this week that he didn’t think enough being done, and he didn’t feel comfortable at work.
But Rick Dovey, president of the ACUA says the agency doesn’t know who left the noose and it’s unlikely he can take any action until he finds out.
“We’re not taking this lightly. This is reprehensible,” said Rick Dovey, president of the ACUA, “but there’s nobody to pin this on.”
After finding the noose, Henry, and his co-worker who is Hispanic, notified supervisors. Dovey said Henry’s supervisor apologized immediately that Henry had to see the noose.
Management began an internal investigation, Dovey said, but a review of more than 50 surveillance cameras on the lot where the trucks are parked did not reveal who left the rope.
It’s unclear whether Henry was targeted specifically, or if the noose was left to be found by any African-American who works at the authority. Drivers and laborers do not work in the same trucks every day
“The truck was not assigned to Scott in any pattern,” Dovey said. “It’s a truck that he’s assigned to, but it’s not in a predictable manner.”
Dovey said he met with Henry to explain to him that the internal investigation was at an impasse.
That’s when Henry complained to the Board of Freeholders.
Dovey said he has since received a call from political leaders in Atlantic County saying he should report the matter to law enforcement.
Dovey said police told him there was little they could do.
But Lt. Bob Gray of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department said the matter is still under investigation.
“We just had it reported to us yesterday,” Gray said.
It’s unclear why members of the authority didn’t report the noose to police. Dovey said they’d just been treating it as a personnel matter.
“It could have been a stupid, idiotic joke, somebody thinking its funny,” Dovey said. “It’s not funny. But all workforces have immature people who do stupid things. We’re not immune.
“I’ve seen everything. You shouldn’t have to tell people not to urinate in public, but we’ve had that.”
He said he will fire anyone whoever left the noose if they discover the culprit..
“There’s been racial things that have happened, and we’ve fired people for that,” Dovey said.