Contractor finds noose at Grosse Pointe South High

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

A construction company found a noose in a classroom at Grosse Pointe South High School on Tuesday night. 

Turner Construction Company notified Grosse Pointe Public School System about the noose around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the district said in a statement. The contractor said a construction worker found it while completing a final safety walk-through. 

The contractor, which is used for all GPPSS bond projects, sealed the room off and notified the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department, the district said. 

Grosse Pointe South High School

"We've certainly had incidents of racism at Grosse Pointe South High School ... and that's something we're on, working, partnering with. We're trying to do better, we're trying to work and partner with kids," Jon Dean, deputy superintendent for human resources and educational services, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

David Kelly, vice president and general manager of Turner, said the noose appeared to be fashioned out of drapery cord and was hung near a window on the first floor of the building. 

Grosse Pointe South has been under construction for the past three weeks and no students or staff were at the school during that time. The district said only workers who are involved with the construction have been at the school. 

Dean said the building where the noose was found has about 40 entrances, and all of them are kept locked except the one entrance that Turner employees use. 

"It's a horrific incident. I can only imagine how deeply hurtful this is, not only to the entire community but especially for the black community to have to be subjected to this incident," said Kelly. 

A diverse workforce of about 30 to 40 is on site each day at the school, the Turner official said. 

Turner met with all of its workers at 11 a.m. Wednesday to discuss that the "job site needs to be a safe place that is accepting, caring and welcoming to all," according to the district's news release. Turner also held a discussion with project contractors and subcontractors in the past week, before the noose was found, about race, racism and harassment, the district said. 

The job site was closed for the rest of Wednesday. 

The district said it is participating in the investigation, though school officials do not suspect any GPPSS staff or students are involved in the incident. 

“It’s unfortunate that in 2020 we’re still dealing with such things,” said Cynthia Douglas, president of the Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods NAACP. "We want either that person, if they work for Turner Construction, to be fired or if they work for a vendor, either to have that vendor company removed or have that individual who works for that vendor to be removed."

Douglas said Dean called her Wednesday morning to inform her of the incident.

The discovery of the noose is the latest racial incident involving the school.

In 2019, Grosse Pointe South was under scrutiny after two white girls, who were students at the school, were seen in a viral video wrangling and spewing offensive language, including use of the N-word and references to slavery. 

In 2016, four students from Grosse Pointe South were suspended after pictures circulated of them writing the N-word across their stomachs. 

Later that year, students from the school were seen in a video that circulated on social media that included “offensive, racist statements regarding African-Americans,” the school's principal said at the time.

“In light of everything that's been going on in the country, to have something like this happen when we're trying to come together as a community, it's just unfortunate that people are still trying to intimidate African Americans in this area," Douglas said.