Supervisor threatens to hang worker for drinking from ‘white people’ fountain

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MEMPHIS, TN — The recording sounds like something from the Jim Crow days: A white supervisor threatening to hang an African-American employee for drinking water from a “white people” fountain.  But it’s 2014, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Antonio Harris, who worked at Atkinson Cotton Warehouse, said he used his phone to record his supervisor after feeling discriminated against for months.

In the audio, Harris asks if he could use the microwave.

“Hell no!,” a man he describes as the supervisor responds.

When he asks why, the purported voice from the supervisor says it’s because Harris is not white.

In another attempt to use the water fountain, the supervisor has the same reaction.

“I need to put a sign here that says, ‘white people only,'” the voice says.

Harris asks what will happen if he is caught drinking from the fountain.

The voice replies, “That’s when we hang you.”

There were other instances, with other co-workers, according to Harris.

“Telling me, ‘Black man, don’t get on this white man’s lift,'” Harris told CNN affiliate WREG.

Another African-American employee, Marrio Mangrum, said he was subjected to racism, too.

“He would be like, ‘You need to think like a white man,’ ” Mangrum told the affiliate.

Mangrum filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January. In it, he said the discrimination occurred between August 2013 and January. He was laid off from his driving job on January 21, and filed the complaint nine days later.

In the audio, the supervisor expresses support for the Jim Crow era between the 1880s and 1960s, when racial segregation and discrimination were enforced in various states.

“Back then, nobody thought anything about it,” the supervisor says in the audio. “Now everybody is made to … think it’s bad.”

The owner of the cotton company, E.W. Atkinson, said he was stunned by the recording, and had no idea that was going on.

“I just wasn’t around. I’m sorry I didn’t know sooner,” Atkinson told the affiliate.

He said his management staff is outsourced to Federal Compress, which hired the supervisor.

In a statement to CNN, Federal Compress said it has a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination, and the supervisor was fired after an investigation.

“Federal Compress very much regrets that the allegations were not reported to it when the first incident is claimed to have occurred,” it said.

Harris was also laid off in January. CNN’s repeated attempts to reach Atkinson Cotton Warehouse were unsuccessful.

CNN’s Victor Blackwell contributed to this report.

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • TheREALbyeByeToTheRite

    Just another fine Tea Party, NRA right-wing radical destroying everything and anything good in this country. And good odds it’s a rural hick with various psych hangups about open carry, guns and bibles.

    Maybe somebody will do him and the nation a favor and “break boss up like a dry twig”! I like that idea, Metatronking!

    • Mascoutan

      You continually strive to expand the definition of ignorance, don’t you? Whereas “you can’t fix stupid” absolutely applies, you reinforce the adage in new and creative ways.

      • Cit Riverview

        Although your opinion is rife with many holes, mine is just as valid as those who are designated as the low information voters, whom as an example voted in people such as the Mayor of Wellston. When you and others can say “we walk on water and are without sin”, then you can start with the stone throwing.

    • Rich

      Why must you be an *ss? I guess you if someone or some group doesn’t subscribe to your narrow-minded leftists beliefs, you’ll find some jerk like the guys boss and try to associate such a low-life to the person or group. So, by default, the Unabomber probably was a lefty environmental wacko with socialists beliefs? The wacko who shot the congresswoman was a lefty environmental wacko with socialists beliefs?

      I mean if you want to play the silly game we could find plenty of nuts and disparage ‘your groups’.

      I guess if you support the right to gun ownership as per the 2nd amendment, you are an extremist? I guess following the law is ‘extremism’?

    • richierichinrstlouis

      Interestingly enough the CBC and the NAACP could not find a single instance within the protest in DC over ACA of racism, but that didn’t stop them from attempting to invent one.

    • Steven Sweeney

      Jim Crow laws and the Hoods and sheets both came from southern DEMOCRATS. Al gore SR is from TN and he voted AGAINST the civil rights act! Only bye bye could lie about history to serve his warped platform.But that’s what liberal lefties do, isn’t it?

      • Fed Up Wth Liberals

        Once again Steven, you hit the nail on the head! “TheREALbyeByeToTheRite” is just another part of the cancer that is destroying our great nation.

  • Shaniqua Jefferson

    Why did Untonia Harris and Marrio Mangrum wait till after they was laid off to file a EEOC complaint against one jerk white man? They could have filed the minute this was happening and they got it on recording, why wait ? How they gonna blame the whole company if they didn’t say anything to anybody while it was happening? They maybe pretty much dumbarses for puttin up with that for so long…. or real -real smart after seeing what happened in that NBA old man racial scandle —- $$$ .
    You think they will split 2 billion dollars?

    • Cit Riverview

      Great retort. those stupid people who hover around the aclu hoping for the big payday. The only racism that is alive and well is Black on white racism.

  • chejkalcfh

    While I don’t think the supervisor should be hung, he should be permanently unable to find a job ANY WHERE doing anything. Today that attitude is absolutely unacceptable, by or from anyone, period.

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