Tom Bailey Jr., Commercial Appeal (Memphis), September 5, 2007
The City of Germantown has fired three theater workers after another employee complained some stage-rope knots resembled lynching nooses.
The Aug. 24 firing of Germantown Performing Art Centre’s technical director, Matthew Strampe, and two part-timers occurred after another city employee apparently complained of a hostile work environment, city spokesman Stacey Ewell said.
“A few weeks ago there were some nooses tied in some ropes backstage,” she said.
[Alderman Carole] Hinely sits on the GPAC Board of Directors as the alderman liaison.
She said the knots are typical looping knots that stagehands use to make it easier to grip the ropes.
The city had appropriated money to refurbish the stage floor, so the ropes had been pulled down to raise the curtain for the work, Hinely said.
The employee who complained did not work for GPAC and may not be familiar with the theater knots, she said.
The African-American employee who complained “looks up and sees these knots. They were loops looking I guess like a hangman’s loop
She described [City Administrator Patrick] Lawton’s actions as a “knee-jerk” reaction.