NEW BERLIN -- On Monday, Jan. 14, the Original Black Panthers held a press conference outside of Denco Manufacturing in New Berlin, voicing their disapproval of a purported racist incident. Back in December, an employee who is white allegedly altered a work strap to look like a noose, and then handed it to a co-worker who is black.
"Once again, racism has reared its ugly head in the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee suburbs," said King Rick of the Black Panthers.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Marlon Anderson -- the Denco employee on the receiving end -- said the incident was anything but funny.
"He had asked me to come stick my head in there. I take that as racist. You made a noose and asked me to stick my head in it," said Anderson. "He said, 'well, it wasn't to be taken racist.' He said 'what I wanted was for you to check the weight of my strap.' And at that time I said, 'get away from me, seriously.'"
New Berlin police investigated the incident, and weren't able to find any proof of a noose. They agreed not to pursue the incident any further, but weeks later, Anderson -- who is now on paid administrative leave -- said he is still reeling from what happened.
"I have to go and sit down with a psychologist, or doctors, and basically be evaluated to see that I'm not going to hurt someone," said Anderson.
He claims that he has to do this because he admitted to his boss that he carried a screwdriver in his pocket for protection.
"That's how scared I was -- I put a screwdriver in my pocket," said Anderson. "I didn't brandish it to anyone. I didn't threaten anybody with it."
The alleged perpetrator has moved to a different shift from Anderson, but no further disciplinary action was cited in the police report.
Denco Manufacturing released the following statement following the incident:
“At Denco Manufacturing, we are committed to maintaining a workplace that is safe, inclusive, and welcoming for all employees regardless of their race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. We took these allegations very seriously, immediately launched an investigation and cooperated fully with the New Berlin Police Department. Both our investigation and that of the Police Department found no evidence of wrongdoing. That said, it is clear that a troubling misunderstanding occurred, which is regrettable. We expect every employee will treat each other with respect at all times. To be clear, the behaviors that have been alleged have no place at our company. As we move forward, we will conduct a formal review of our policies and will reaffirm our expectations of all employees. We care deeply about the well-being of all our employees. However, we are obligated by law and company policy to maintain their confidentiality.”