'Act of hate' found at Obama Presidential Center worksite in Chicago, $100k reward offered

An "act of hate" was discovered Thursday at the worksite of the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side.

Now, the construction company building the presidential center is offering a $100,000 reward to help find whoever is responsible for hanging a noose at the project site.

"We are horrified that this would occur on our site and are offering a $100,000 reward to help find the individual or individuals responsible for this shameful act," Lakeside Alliance said in a statement.

The company says they called police after being made aware of the noose.

"This morning we were informed that an act of hate was discovered at the project site. We reported the incident to the police and will provide any assistance required to identify those responsible," the company said.

Lakeside Alliance says they have suspended "all operations onsite in order to provide another series of these trainings and conversations for all staff and workers."

The Obama Foundation released the following statement in response to the noose being found.

"This shameless act of cowardice and hate is designed to get attention and divide us. Our priority is protecting the health and safety of our workforce. We have notified authorities who are investigating the incident."


The Chicago Police Department is aware of the noose and the matter is under investigation, said Sgt. Rocco Alioto, a department spokesman.

An alliance spokeswoman, Lara Cooper, said she could not comment on whether it suspects a worker at the site and how the pause will affect the work.

The Obamas have said the presidential center is a "love letter" and a "thank you note" to the South Side of Chicago, which is where they met, started their family and where the former president started his political career.

"This day has been a long time coming," former President Barack Obama said last year.

The presidential center will sit on 19 acres of the 540-acre Jackson Park, named for the nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.

The project on the west side of Jackson Park will feature four buildings, including a main tower that will house a museum, conference center, classrooms and a branch of the Chicago Public Library.

"We want this center to be more than a static museum or a source of archival research. It won’t just be a collection of campaign memorabilia or Michelle’s ballgowns, although I know everybody will come see those," Obama joked. "It won’t just be an exercise in nostalgia or looking backwards. We want to look forward."

The $850 million presidential center is expected to open sometime in late 2025 and draw about 700,000 people a year to the site.

Progress has been delayed by lawsuits and a federal review required because of the location in Jackson Park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. At the same time, fears about displacing Black residents in the area developed into a years-long battle resulting in city-approved neighborhood protections, including for affordable housing.

But the Obamas had said it was important to them to build it on the city's South Side. The center is near the University of Chicago where Obama taught law and where the Obamas got married and raised their two daughters.

"I started off right down the street. And the lessons I learned in these neighborhoods ended up shaping the rest of my life," Obama said. "The Obama Presidential Center is our way of showing young people everywhere that they can do the same."

He chose Chicago over several cities, including Honolulu, where he was born and spent his early years.

Michelle Obama also grew up on the South Side.

"This city, this neighborhood courses through my veins and defines me at my very core," the former first lady said in 2021. "This substantial investment in the South Side will help make the neighborhood where we call home a destination for the entire world."

Associated Press contributed to this report.