Showing posts with label noose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label noose. Show all posts

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Jena: The gift that keeps on giving

The latest installment in Nooses Across America, this time from the Omaha World-Herald:
The U.S. Army Reserve is investigating allegations that an officer hung a noose in the Council Bluffs office of an African-American sergeant and Iraq war veteran, Army officials said Friday.

Sgt. Tiffany Robinson filed a complaint alleging that her commander, 1st Lt. Harold Hessig, a part-time reservist who also works as a Bellevue police detective, left a rope tied in a noose hanging from a pipe in their office in October.

Robinson, who served in Iraq with the Reserve's 784th Transportation Company, requested transfer to a new assignment, saying she felt that her civil rights had been violated.

"I felt it very offensive and psychologically damaging. I don't feel safe," she wrote in the complaint sent to Army Reserve officials.

Except to confirm that an investigation is in progress, Reserve officials declined to comment Friday.

"There is a formal investigation into these allegations that is currently under way. Until that is complete, we can't comment on the case," said Lt. Col. Kathy Klein, spokeswoman for the Reserve's 89th Regional Readiness Command in Wichita, Kan., which oversees Nebraska Reserve units.

Hessig did not return calls to the Bellevue Police Department seeking comment. A home phone listing for him had been disconnected.

Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey said that in light of the Army investigation, the department has opened an internal investigation into Hessig's actions. He remains on duty while the inquiry continues, Stacey said.

In Hessig's 7½ years with the Police Department, no complaints have been lodged against him, Stacey said. He said Hessig had compiled an "exemplary record."

Stacey said Hessig left the department in 2004 to serve with the Army Reserve in Afghanistan, returning in 2006.

"I'm a little shocked they'd consider him at the center of this," the chief said. "I think they'll probably find out they've got the wrong guy, but that's what investigations are for. We'll find out."

According to her complaint, Robinson walked into her Reserve office in October to find Hessig and another soldier fashioning a noose out of a piece of rope that Robinson had found earlier in a file cabinet.

Robinson said she felt uncomfortable and left the office but "brushed it off" after she returned and didn't see the noose anywhere.

She said she found the noose hanging from a heating pipe in the office the following Monday.

"I don't know what the intentions were behind it or if it was racial at all, but I am very offended. I don't feel safe at home or at work," Robinson wrote in her complaint. "I don't think Lt. Hessig would intentionally do anything to hurt me, but under the circumstances I can't be 100 percent sure."

Robinson said she received several apologies from Hessig but that his attempts at reconciliation began to worry her when he showed up unannounced at her home.