DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co. is investigating how a noose ended up on the campus of its plant in Durham, North Carolina, according to a published report.

Merck operates a 262-acre facility in north Durham. The News & Observer reports that a contractor on site found “a rope fashioned as a noose” at a construction project, according to an email obtained by the newspaper. The rope was immediately removed, the email said.

“Actions such as these will NOT be tolerated and individuals found committing such acts will be dealt with swiftly and severely,” site management said in the email. “As a leadership team, we are disgusted that anyone on our plant site would engage in such behavior.”

The email was signed by 17 people.

Nooses have been used as symbols of racism and hate towards Black people, alluding to the…

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