NEWS

Leon’s black statue lynching case probed by police

09/05/2013 05:05 EDT | Updated 11/05/2013 05:12 EST
Police in Halifax are investigating a workplace incident after a former Leon’s furniture employee told a human right's tribunal a statue was symbolically lynched at a store in Dartmouth, N.S.

Elsworth Bottomley first brought his story to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission on Wednesday. He said the statue was just one incident of racial discrimination.

Bottomley, who is black, said he was called the N-word and that a fellow driver made denigrating comments about the intelligence of black people.

Bottomley also said a Leon's manager told him he worried about sending two black delivery drivers to a job because that would intimidate customers.

Finally, Bottomley told the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that someone hung a black statue in a window at the store three weeks ago, simulating a lynching.

He said the 45-centimetre-high statue, which Leon’s offers for sale, was dangled by the neck with tape.

Bottomley said he gave Halifax police a statement, but he doesn’t feel they are pursuing the matter as vigorously as he'd like.

A police spokeswoman said an investigation is underway.

“Absolutely we're taking this seriously. As soon as it came in we had officers assigned, they went and talked to the complainant, and have been carrying it forward ever since,” said Lauren Leal.

“It could be anything, it could be threats, it could be harassment. That sort of thing. But until we are able to look at all of the information in a totality, we can't really make a call at this point.”

Leon's said the statue-hanging incident was offensive, and cannot be tolerated.

It said two employees have been fired and other staff have received diversity and sensitivity training.

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