Sunday, December 09, 2007

Long Beach Port Workers Protest Perceived Acts Of Racism

Demonstration Stems From Various Noose-Related Incidents

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- A group of port workers staged a protest to condemn what they said were five instances of nooses being displayed by fellow employees as threats against black employees.

"We got to kill this kind of bigotry right now," Long Beach longshoreman Eddie Jones said Friday.

The demonstrators said they saw nooses hanging from trucks and one printed on a white longshoreman's T-shirt between early October and late November at the adjoining Long Beach and Los Angeles ports.

They displayed a photograph of a noose hanging from the antenna of a foreman's truck on Halloween eve.

"He said it was a Halloween prank, but if it's a prank, what's the punchline?" said Floyd Mitchell, a port security guard.

Longshore worker Catherine Pace said she witnessed a Caucasian worker wearing a black shirt with a picture of a noose on the back.

Port supervisors were lackadaisical in responding to complaints about the overtly racist symbols, said longshore worker Hattie Simsulu. She said she believes the employer should have stepped in and taken action.

Long Beach police and a port spokesman said Friday that they had not heard about or received any complaints about the nooses.

"We are trying to resolve this with the employer first," said Jones, who heads a coalition of black port workers.

Grievances were filed in the noose cases with the Pacific Maritime Association, a group of terminal operators. Hearings are scheduled, association spokesman Steve Getzug said.

"Racial harassment and discrimination are against the law and will not be tolerated on the waterfront," the association said in a statement. "Where warranted and possible, disciplinary action already has been taken or is being pursued."

The association declined to discuss the specific actions but said employees who engage in harassment or discrimination could be reassigned or fired.

Source: KNBC

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