A Nebraska man will serve prison time after he left a noose on a Black coworker’s equipment chair.
Bruce Quinn, a 66-year-old former employee at the Oriental Trading Co. who previously pled guilty to a federal civil rights violation in September, was sentenced to four months in prison and one year of supervised release, secondo il Nebraska U.S. Attorney’s office.
The sentencing comes over two years after Quinn’s 63-year-old coworker Keith Kirksey found a noose made out of orange twine on the seat of a floor scrubber that he was about to use in June 2020.
“Federal courts have long recognized the noose as one of the most vile symbols in American history,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “Individuals, like this defendant, who use a noose to convey a threat of violence at a workplace will be held accountable for their actions.”
The DOJ shared in a release that Kirksey discovered the 8-to-12-inch piece of orange twine left on a seat for him, at a time when he was the only Black employee trained to use the scrubber. He told investigators that he believed it signified a death threat against him.
Plea agreement documents obtained by local station WOWT show that Quinn admitted he put the noose in a place where he knew his coworker would find it, and that he also claimed “Nazi stuff doesn’t make Black people crazy. But a hangman’s noose certainly would.”
“Why would somebody want to do that,” the victim asked WOWT two years ago. “And by me hearing on the news about all the other hangings and stuff in the United States, you would think that stuff had stopped, but it keeps going on and on.”
Quinn’s official charge is “Interference with Federally Protected Activities,” and he was sentenced by Judge Susan M. Bazis, per a release.
“It put my family through traumatic stress due to the fact that Keith is one of my younger brothers,” the victim’s sister, Jacqueline Y. Kirksey, told WOWT. “Living in the state of Nebraska I never thought I would have to experience something like my brother went through, due to the fact that it is now 2022. And it made me think of Willie Brown, Emmett Till. I thought we were beyond that however today proved that we’re not.”
Donald Robinson, Kirksey’s friend, told the station that he thought the sentencing was “rather light” given what the coworker did. “I also feel with the climate that’s been going on all across the world a greater message needs to be sent,” Egli ha detto.
Quinn was previously charged with a DUI, WOWT segnalato, citing a judge. The network added that he will self-report when he begins his sentence, and he will serve the time in Yankton, South Dakota.
“We want everybody to know my uncle’s life does matter and no matter what the courts had to say, there’s a higher power that has the last say and Keith Kirksey’s life does matter,” Jewell Kirksey Smith said.