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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Erum Salam

Missouri bus drivers protest after colleague finds noose at work

man stands next to a line of yellow school buses
Amin Mitchell’s colleagues at at least 100 other drivers staged a work stoppage in his support. Photograph: Christian Gooden/AP

Bus drivers in Missouri staged a protest this week after a co-worker found a noose at his work station and posted about it on social media.

Amin Mitchell, a diesel mechanic, shared video of the noose on the floor of his employer – Missouri Central School Bus – on Facebook on 22 February.

“Ever since I been working here I’ve been filing prejudice complaints on BOTH of my supervisors. I’m making a HR complaint at least twice a week about equality with these two,” Mitchell wrote in his post. “To the point where I voiced how uncomfortable I feel at work. Today I had enough! I came into work this morning and found a NOOSE!”

Mitchell, who is Black, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that he believes the noose was a racist response to a disagreement with a manager and an intimidation tactic.

“Nobody can tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That wasn’t there when I left, it was there when I got there in the morning,” Mitchell told the local news station Fox2. “I feel like I was meant to see it.”

Colleagues of Mitchell’s from Missouri Central School Bus and at least 100 other drivers, members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, stood by his side – calling in sick and stopping work. The work stoppage, which began on Monday, forced the cancellation of after-school activities at St Louis public schools and has disrupted more than 50 bus routes, drawing the attention of parents and students to the incident involving Mitchell.

The St Louis public school district posted an update about the situation on their website: “As many of you may already be aware, this morning saw minimal progress in resolving the situation. Fifty-six bus routes remained uncovered due to the ongoing dispute between drivers and management at Missouri Central. It appears the number will be similar this afternoon. We are actively utilizing our communication channels to inform those affected by these disruptions.

“We encourage you to continue monitoring these communication channels for updates.”

In the update, the school district called the allegations against Mitchell “troubling” and said it hoped for a swift resolution.

Local NAACP chapters have demanded a federal or state investigation into the issue.

“The noose is a symbol of hate and sends a clear message of racial terror and the potential for violence,” the Missouri NAACP president, Nimrod Chapel Jr, said.

In a statement to Fox2, Missouri Central condemned discrimination and said it would also conduct a private investigation.

“At Missouri Central, our policy is to provide and foster a work environment that is welcoming to all regardless of age, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation,” the statement said. “There is zero tolerance for any behavior that violates this policy.”

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