African American Worker Reports Incident; Town Of Islip Launches Investigation

ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Islip town worker Cleveland Gamble said he was shocked and sickened after he walked into the common area in a Parks Department building on Halloween night.

“I discovered that there was, like, a mannequin, a dummy, a stuffed dummy in a town uniform hanging from a noose,” he said.

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He said he snapped a photo of the disturbing sight and told a supervisor. The dangling dummy wore a skeleton mask.

“I was shocked and I was hurt. I was devastated,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story

Gamble asked the shop steward to take it down. Gamble said the co-worker who had hung the mannequin apologized profusely, saying he intended it only as a prank.

“Although I am accepting your apology I am going to have to document this because I’ve had past situations,” Gamble said he told the co-worker.

Gamble claims in 2007 he reported three racial incidents to the town and county. On Thursday, he sought the counsel of a lawyer, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

“Litigation has not begun as of yet. What we did today was to file a formal written complaint with the Town of Islip,” attorney Ivan Young said.

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The act was perceived as discrimination and harassment by the town, for which it said it has a zero-tolerance policy.

“We want our employees to act professionally at all times and treat each other with dignity and respect,” Islip Labor Relations Director Robert Finnegan said. “Any prank even on Halloween is unacceptable.”

Suffolk County Police said that the incident does “not” appear to be of a criminal nature. Islip council members are urging sensitivity training.

“Coming from South Carolina, having a cross burned on my yard as a kid, this opened up some old wounds,” Gamble said.

The 51-year-old said he doesn’t want the man who hung the mannequin fired.

“The message I want to get is that this will not be tolerated,” Gamble said.

The town said the co-worker — a foreman — will be disciplined. Other co-workers said it was Halloween night. There were dummies, ghouls and goblins hanging from nooses all over town.

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