Across the Southeast

FBI studies accusation of racism in workplace


NEW ORLEANS --- The FBI is investigating allegations that a Public Works Department supervisor in Jefferson Parish intimidated black workers by displaying in his office two nooses, a bullwhip and a dart board with a black man as the bull's eye.

A black worker made the allegations Wednesday, saying he was fed up with the display of racist symbols in his superintendent's office at a sewage lift station and decided to take his case to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"I've been in this department 61/2 years, and when I got to the department they were there," Terrence Lee said of the nooses and other items.

Mr. Lee appeared in his blue work uniform and brown ball cap at a news conference in the offices of Danatus King, the president of the NAACP's New Orleans chapter.

"I know I'm going to get fired, but I have to stand up," Mr. Lee said. He said his motivation for going public with the allegations is to achieve "equal rights for everybody."

When he complained about the symbols to his foreman, Mr. Lee said his concerns were dismissed.

Jim Bernazzani, the special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office, said he assigned the case to his civil rights division.

Mr. Lee's superintendent could not be reached.

-- Edited from wire reports