Lawsuit Alleges Construction Workers Verbally Assaulted, Threatened African-American Man

CLEVELAND - An African-American man said that some local construction workers on a job in Cleveland's Flats entertainment district used racial slurs and threatened to string him up in a noose. Now, he's fighting back with a lawsuit, Action News' Ed Gallek reported.

In the lawsuit, a black union carpenter said that he went to the site to picket against non-union work going on. That's when Garlin Ferris said that some guys threw down a noose and threatened to string him up.

"They said, 'Do you want to get strung up and get the (expletive) beat out of you, you monkey?'" Ferris (pictured, above) said. "I looked up three stories and they were throwing rope into a hanging noose and they lowered it and laughed."

The lawsuit names the developer -- Stonebridge Management and Development Corp. When Action News first went to get the company's side of the story, an official waved off the Action News crew, refusing to answer any questions.

Then, moments later, Stonebridge spokesman Doug Price made himself available to talk about the allegations.

"It's all about the union trying to muscle into the job which was non-union," Price said. "It had nothing to do with (racism). This was all trumped up by the union."

Price said that the noose was actually being used to haul metal studs up the building, not to intimidate anyone.

Ferris, however, didn't see it that way.

"The rope, the noose is a symbol of hate in the black community," Ferris said. "I'm frightened by the whole process."

So, now the courts will decide whether what transpired at the construction site was a racial attack or simply a union dispute. Both sides also point the finger at each other for provoking earlier trouble. In all, there are three criminal cases surrounding the incident.