Noose hung in UCSF warehouse

July 19, 2012 8:13:53 PM PDT
The ABC7 News I-Team has learned that UCSF Medical Center is dealing with a racially charged incident -- a noose hung in an office out in the open.

It happened July 10, deep inside the UCSF Medical Center building on Parnassus Avenue in the inventory warehouse for facilities management.

A large noose hung for anyone to see -- an African American worker snapped a picture and sent it to the I-Team, along with a supervisor's email that identifies an Asian American worker who "with great remorse, admitted he had knotted the rope and hung it up, not with racial malice or ill intent, but, what in his mind at the time, as an innocent prank."

The I-Team spoke to workers who say the incident is just the latest example of racial tension there. They won't go on camera for fear of losing their jobs, but at least one of them has hired a lawyer. They are now in discussions with UCSF and considering a hostile work environment lawsuit.

"There was an orgy of lynchings in the south, people took pictures, they made postcards out of the hung and burned bodies," the Rev. Arnold Townsend of the San Francisco NAACP said. "It's a violent image when you see it and it suggests a violent reaction number one, you really want to start protecting yourself, you really start wondering who you got to look out for, you got to start watching your back."

Townsend is especially concerned about UCSF's response to the noose incident. A spokesperson declined to be interviewed, but sent the I-Team a statement that reads in part, "An extensive UCSF Police investigation was immediately undertaken and concluded there was no evidence of a crime."

"Most often I've noticed when racism happens the first thing most people do and most police jurisdictions do is deny it," Townsend said.

UCSF also claims, "The District Attorney's Office also determined that a crime had not taken place and declined to file charges."

But that's not true according to a spokesperson for District Attorney George Gascon, who said, "The DA's office isn't saying it's not a crime. ... There is insufficient evidence to prosecute this case at this time. If and when someone is arrested, the case may be reconsidered."

So, it may be up to UCSF's own police force whether to pursue the case.

The I-Team called the worker who apparently admitted leaving the noose and left several messages and tried what appears to be his house in Santa Rosa, but got no response.

UCSF has placed him on what they are calling "investigatory leave."

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