Supervisor threatens to hang worker for drinking from 'white peo

Supervisor threatens to hang worker for drinking from 'white people' fountain

Posted: Updated:
(CNN) -- 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.

Untonia 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 a 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.

(Video courtesy: CNN Newsource)
  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    New D.E.A. prescription drug restrictions

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:37 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:37:29 GMT
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
    Managing your chronic pain could prove to be a tougher process starting this fall. The federal government is stepping up restrictions for prescribing hydrocodone.The new restrictions are part of an effort to cut down on abuse and dependency.
  • Jim Thorpe awards gala celebrates courage in Oklahoma City

    Jim Thorpe awards gala celebrates courage in Oklahoma City

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:32 PM EDT2014-08-23 03:32:34 GMT
    True courage in the face of adversity was awarded Friday night at the annual Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center Courage Award Gala. The event was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
    True courage in the face of adversity was awarded Friday night at the annual Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center Courage Award Gala. The event was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
  • Oklahoma war correspondent, professor, remembers slain journalist

    Oklahoma war correspondent, professor, remembers slain journalist

    Friday, August 22 2014 10:58 PM EDT2014-08-23 02:58:09 GMT
    Scenes from veteran war correspondent and Oklahoman Mike Boettcher's film the Hornet's Nest show the violence and chaos of war.It documents the dangers for troops overseas and the reporters that cover them."People think we're addicted to war or we're addicted to conflict. Really, I think, I'm not," Boettcher said.This week, Boettcher is remembering a friend and colleague James Foley---brutally executed at the hands of ISIS in Syria."He was just a very calm guy. And there is a certain trait th...
    Scenes from veteran war correspondent and Oklahoman Mike Boettcher's film the Hornet's Nest show the violence and chaos of war.It documents the dangers for troops overseas and the reporters that cover them."People think we're addicted to war or we're addicted to conflict. Really, I think, I'm not," Boettcher said.This week, Boettcher is remembering a friend and colleague James Foley---brutally executed at the hands of ISIS in Syria."He was just a very calm guy. And there is a certain trait th...
ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
  • FOX25 Slideshows

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
Compiling list...
  • FOX 25 FeaturesMore>>

  • Tell Me Something Good

    Tell Me Something Good

    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
  • Waste Watch

    Waste Watch

    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by 

WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KOKH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.