Public meeting about GPAC nooses brings mixed emotions - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Public meeting about GPAC nooses brings mixed emotions

The Germantown Mayor and Board of Alderman spent an hour and a half behind closed doors with the city attorney discussing the recent firings.
    
In the end, they opened the door and put up a united front.

The votes are in and they are all the same.

Germantown Alderman Carole Hinely says, "We've all agreed and I will say that I move that we support Mr. Lawton to discharge the three employees involved."
    
This is something that outrages many from the Mid-South theatre community.  In fact, some of those showed up at Wednesday's meeting.

One person said, "This whole thing is, I think, uncalled for."

Photos sent by the city of Germantown show the hangman's nooses used to sinch up rope on the GPAC stage. 

One photo shows one dangling above a chair.

When asked if he is a racist, former GPAC employee Matt Strampe says, "Not at all. I've never spoken or acted in any way racist."
    
In an exclusive interview with Jason Miles Tuesday night, Former technical director Matt Strampe said he meant no harm.
    
But it was enough to offend an African American employee, an investigation ensued, and City Administrator Patrick Lawton dropped the axe.

Strampe continues, "I don't believe there was any kind of racial animosity."
    
Jackie Nichols runs Playhouse on the Square and says hangman's nooses are often used in theatre work.
   
But a better choice might have been made.

Nichols says, "You know I think you look at everything you do on a daily basis and how it affects other people."

While some say the employees were hung out to dry, the Germantown board of alderman says it left no other choice.

Matt Strampe says he plans to consult an attorney.
    
That possible litigation was part of the discussion behind closed doors Wednesday night.


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