UPDATE: Opelika factory representative responds to hate crime in - WRBL

UPDATE: Opelika factory representative responds to hate crime investigation

Posted: Updated:
Photo of noose reported to be hanging in Opelika factory Photo of noose reported to be hanging in Opelika factory
Photo of noose reported to be hanging in Opelika factory Photo of noose reported to be hanging in Opelika factory
OPELIKA, Ala. - An attorney for the Opelika factory involved in a hate crime investigation says the nooses hung inside the plant were "a misunderstanding."

Opelika police, the FBI and the Alabama NAACP are investigating the incident at the Semyoungjin Hi-Tech, LLC factory on Williamson Avenue.

Atlanta attorney June Towery emailed a statement, saying, "the landlord placed the rope there to connect to a hook on the door in order to hold the door open." The email also says the FBI told the company they "did not find any malicious intent."

NAACP officials and the employee who reported the nooses have a different opinion, however.

As one of three African-American workers at Semyoungjin Hi-Tech, LLC, the employee, who does not wish to be named, says ropes had been hanging from the rafters in the factory since he started working there about four months ago. He says it troubled him when someone tied the end of the ropes to look like nooses. When he and his coworkers untied the knots, he thought it was over. Until the nooses reappeared.

"It bothered me a lot to see that they kept retying them after we took them aloose," he says, "so I said enough is enough. It's time for me to reach out and talk to somebody about it."

Alabama NAACP officials visited the plant Friday after pictures of the nooses surfaced. Although the FBI and Opelika police are investigating, the organization plans to do some digging of its own.

First Vice President Rev. Hugh Morris says, "It's nothing that has happened in the past to make me believe that the FBI is going to come back with any kind of favorable decision against this company, so the Alabama state NAACP is making it known now that we will be here, our feet will be glued to the ground, and our nose to the grindstone to get justice."

In response to the Korean company's labeling of the incident as a "misunderstanding," the employee says, "Given the day and age, it's 2014, everyone should know history, given the fact that we came from a long list of slavery."

"A noose hanging from the wall, you've got to know that it's a prejudicial statement, and it's a hate crime-type statement," says Morris. "For them to say that they didn't know anything about it, it's like saying that you see a skull and crossbones on a bottle of bleach and say they didn't know it was poison."

The FBI and Opelika police have yet to confirm any details of their investigation.

***This is a developing story. Refresh this story for the latest updates.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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