The New York City Parks and Recreation Department is under investigation after a 60-year-old African American employee found a black baby doll hanging from a metal chain noose in front of the loading dock on Dec. 20, WPix.com reports.
The incident took place in the department's Bronx borough headquarters. According to local blog "A Walk in the Park," the worker who discovered the doll was described as looking traumatized.
"He looked like he was going to have a stroke," another employee told NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. "I feel really bad for him."
In addition to the doll, the letters "KKK" were also found scratched in a bathroom. The events prompted the New York Police Department to launch a hate crime investigation. The NYC Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe issued the following statement:
The Parks Department does not tolerate hateful acts such as this or any form of discrimination. We are committed to maintaining a safe and respectful workplace for all staff. We immediately reported this incident to the NYPD and are fully cooperating in their investigation. We urge anyone with knowledge of this matter to immediately contact the NYPD so that the perpetrator or perpetrators can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
However, police and other department sources claimed the Commissioner's statement wasn't entirely true, "A Walk in the Park" reports. They said although the doll was discovered in the morning, the incident was not reported until later that afternoon.
"That's bs, they waited for hours," an unidentified parks source told the blog. "They probably would have tried to sweep it under the rug if they could have."
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time there have been issues with racial discrimination. In May 2008, the department settled a lawsuit for over 20 million dollars, compensating minority employees for prejudices in their promotion and salaries.
The department said it plans to cooperate with the police department during the current investigation.