The Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee where an employee fatally shot five co-workers and himself last week has reportedly long dealt with workplace racism, including a noose placed on the gunman’s locker.
The noose was left on 51-year-old electrician Anthony Ferrill’s locker in 2015. It was removed before Ferrill, who was Black, could see it, a company spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost, but he was notified about it.
The person who put the noose on Ferrill’s locker was never found, and there was no security camera footage of the racist act, Molson Coors’ chief communications and corporate affairs officer Adam Collins said in a statement.
“We offered HR and security services to the employee, we talked to the brewery leadership team in Milwaukee about the issue and we ensured everyone knew about our confidential paths to share discrimination or harassment complaints,” Collins said.
Collins added that Molson Coors still has “more work to do” to foster an inclusive and welcoming workplace, which “we aren’t going to shy away from.”
A company spokesperson did not elaborate on specific actions or measures that will be taken to improve race relations and did not respond to HuffPost’s question about whether there have been other racist incidents involving nooses.
Police told HuffPost on Wednesday that a motive for the Feb. 26 shooting has not yet been identified. Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales told local radio station WTMJ last week that he doesn’t believe racism was a factor in the attack.
In a statement shared on Twitter Wednesday evening, the police department said that, “neither race nor racism has been identified as a factor in this incident.”
The department added that it was “not aware of any of the victims targeted in the mass shooting being involved in any inappropriate or racist behavior toward the suspect. Therefore, the narrative of retaliation being the suspect’s motive has not been substantiated.”
Six current and former employees, speaking with The Washington Post, have said that overtly racist acts have occurred at the brewery for years, including racist slurs targeting Black people scrawled on walls and racist cartoons and nooses.
Jelani Muhammad, who worked at the brewery from 2015 to 2019, said former co-workers would make fun of his name and Muslim faith.
“I’d hear jokes about me putting a bomb in someone’s car or putting a bomb somewhere in the building,” he told the Post. “I never took it to management because there was a time when a guy was making a joke in front of a supervisor and the supervisor didn’t say a thing about it.”
Another former employee, identified as Raylynne Clayborn, 39, said white employees hung racist cartoons ― including images of monkeys and blackface characters eating watermelon ― in a room in the brewery department. The cartoons were eventually taken down by Black employees.
A current employee who declined to give his name out of fear of work repercussions described the workplace as a “good old boys club” hostile to women and people of color.
“There was a saying on the brewery floor — ‘no blacks, no b――-s,’ ” he said.