Work on a new stadium for MLS side FC Cincinnati resumed on Tuesday following two racist incidents that compelled contractor Turner Construction to hold almost two-hours of anti-bias training session for all workers on the site.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, one incident involved the use of a racial slur, and the other involved racist language scrawled on the wall of a hoist that transports workers between floors of the job site.
Turner Construction vice president David Spaulding confirmed in a statement that two individuals who worked for a subcontractor were identified as the perpetrators and have been permanently removed from the job site.
Spaulding said that Turner Construction has a zero-tolerance policy in terms of racist behavior, but in light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police on May 25, as well as the incidents on the job site, the company decided to take further steps and conduct the training session as well.
"We made a decision that anything less than overreaction would be an underreaction," Spaulding told ESPN. "We also, as a company, understand it's not enough just to stop someone from doing it. And that's why we held a stand down and had almost two hours of training for every single worker on the site -- because we also believe that we can move the industry forward if we educate people.
"Just removing someone from the site and not talking about it isn't being part of the solution. It's just really pushing through it, so we wanted to rewrite the narrative."
The anti-bias training consisted of a 30-minute presentation illustrating past racist incidents in the U.S., including the 1921 Tulsa massacre, federal housing and redlining, and the killing of Floyd. Also included in the training was a discussion about treating people with dignity and respect.
"At our job sites, the No. 1 thing we care about is safety, sending people home every evening. And that's just not physical safety -- it's also mental safety," Spaulding said. "They have to be able to come to work to a place of dignity and respect where people treat them well."
Construction began on the $250 million stadium in December 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2021 MLS regular season.
FC Cincinnati officials said the team supports Turner's decision.
"FC Cincinnati was shocked to hear of two racist incidents on the stadium job site," the team said in a statement. "FC Cincinnati will not tolerate racism on the stadium job site or any part of the FC Cincinnati organization. We all must be vigilant in working to address systemic racism that unfortunately exists within our country and local community."
This is the third time this year that FCC has been involved, directly or indirectly, with racist incidents. Earlier this year, Ron Jans resigned as the team's manager following an investigation into his use of racial slurs. Later, FCC issued a lifetime ban to a fan for directing racist remarks via Twitter to two of the team's players.