Merck pharmaceutical company launched an investigation after a “rope fashioned as a noose” was found at a construction project on its sprawling plant in Durham, North Carolina. The site will help produce the J&J Covid-19 vaccine.
The rope, which was allegedly tied like a noose, was discovered earlier this week on Merck’s 262-acre Durham site, which is undergoing expansion. The discovery was made by a contractor, local media reported.
While an investigation is still underway, the site’s management team appeared to have little doubt that an unknown perpetrator wanted to insult employees with the offensive display, rather than it being an unfortunate accident.
“Actions such as these will NOT be tolerated and individuals found committing such acts will be dealt with swiftly and severely,” the site operator told the News and Observer in an email.
“As a leadership team, we are disgusted that anyone on our plant site would engage in such behavior,” they added.
Merck confirmed the investigation on Saturday, but did not provide additional details pertaining to the incident, while declaring zero tolerance for racism and discrimination in the workplace.
In March, Merck agreed for its Durham facility to be used to help rival Johnson & Johnson to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine by producing bulk substances required for it.
The reported discovery follows a series of similar incidents that led to the shutdown of an Amazon construction site in May. The e-commerce giant halted construction of a warehouse in Connecticut after as many as eight ropes tied like a noose were unearthed at its Windsor site, sparking a police and FBI investigation into a potential hate crime. The incidents were denounced by civil rights activists, and a reward of $100,000 was put out for information on those behind the actions.