Noose Found at Benson High School Construction Site on Saturday

Update: Police say they aren’t sure it was intended as a noose.

A worker found a noose at a Benson High School construction site on Saturday, the second one discovered on a job run by Andersen Construction in the past 26 months.

The noose was discovered at around 9:45 am by a “tradepartner” of Andersen’s, according to an email sent to construction industry leaders today by Kimberly Gamble, Anderson’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It is with a heavy heart, extreme disappointment and hurt that we are reporting the discovery of a noose on our Benson High School jobsite Saturday, Aug. 13,” Gamble wrote. “The tradepartner immediately notified Andersen Construction. The scene was secured, Portland Police Bureau was notified and responded at 11:15 am. The FBI will be notified.”

The noose is at least the second one found at an Anderson site since May 2020, when the company discovered one at the Vanport Building job site downtown, according to a report in The Oregonian at the time. Now completed, the Vanport Building houses offices belonging to Portland State University, Portland Community College, Oregon Health & Science University, and the city of Portland.

A spokesperson for Andersen Construction didn’t return calls or texts seeking comment.

Benson High School has an unusually diverse student body for Portland. “Benson Tech is among the most diverse high schools in the Northwest, with equal numbers of white, Latino, African-American, and Asian American students,” Portland Public Schools says on its website.

In February 2020, three Benson students confessed to placing a noose on the school roof.

Andersen Construction held a “stand down” at the Benson job site this morning to address all employees, present options for support, and report any information about the noose, Gamble said in her email.

“A $10,000 reward is offered to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the identification of the person(s) who committed this heinous act,” Gamble said. “Andersen’s Respectful Workplace Hotline can be utilized for anonymous reporting in the event that any person with information does not feel safe coming forward.”

Gamble addressed her email to “Safe from Hate” stakeholders. Portland-area contractors, unions and workers started the Safe from Hate program shortly after the first noose was found in an effort to make construction sites more welcoming to women and people of color.

Safe from Hate asks participating contractors to sign a pledge to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in their job site culture.

UPDATE, 11:25 am Tuesday: Portland police said they weren’t sure whether the rope was intended as a noose. “Evidence did not conclusively demonstrate that it was in fact a noose,” writes PPB spokesperson Terri Wallo Strauss. “However, out of an abundance of caution, the case has been referred to the FBI.”