Statue 'lynching' at Canadian furniture store leads to firings, probe

Sept. 5, 2013 at 9:15 PM
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DARTMOUTH, Nova Scotia, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The symbolic lynching of a small statue in a furniture store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has led to the firing of two employees and a police investigation.

Leon's driver Elsworth Bottomley complained to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Wednesday, saying the incident three weeks ago was just one of the instances of racial discrimination he has endured while working for the furniture store, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Bottomley, who is black, said he had been called the N-word and been the target of another driver's degrading comments about the intelligence of black people. He also said a Leon's manager expressed concern about sending two black deliver drivers to the same location because customers would be intimidated, the CBC said.

In the lynching incident, Bottomley said the approximately 18-inch-tall statue, which Leon's offers for sale, was strung up by the neck with tape.

"It was a display meant for me to see and everyone else to witness. I do feel it was a hate crime," he said.

Bottomley said he gave Halifax police a statement, and a department spokeswoman said the matter was being investigated.

"Absolutely we're taking this seriously," department spokeswoman Lauren Leal said. "As soon as it came in we had officers assigned, they went and talked to the complainant, and have been carrying it forward ever since.

"It could be anything, it could be threats, it could be harassment. That sort of thing. But until we are able to look at all of the information in a totality, we can't really make a call at this point."

The CBC said Leon's called the statue-hanging offensive. The furniture store fired two employees and other staff have received diversity and sensitivity training, the news network said.

The CBC said a human rights board of inquiry is looking into another alleged case of racial discrimination at the same Leon's store. Garnetta Cromwell, also black, alleges a manager referred to her employee evaluation as a lynching.

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