State officials have launched an investigation into an anti-racism website set up by the mother of a man who killed eight employees at a Manchester beer distribution warehouse.
Lillie Holliday’s site, http://www.ostmemorialfund.com , is set up as a memorial for her son, Omar Thornton and solicits donations to fight institutionalized racism.
“As a mother, I do not want any other mother to experience what I did in losing a son as a result of the impact of racism in the workplace,” she says in a statement on the website.
The site provides a link for donations, saying they will “assist in shaping a safer environment for our families and loved ones.”
Thornton, who was black, shot 10 people, eight of them fatally, within three minutes on Aug. 3, 2010 at the Hartford Distributors warehouse, before killing himself in what police said was the worst mass shooting ever in Connecticut.
Immediately before the shootings, Thornton was fired for stealing beer. Before killing himself, he called 911 and told an operator: “This place is a racist place. They’re treating me bad over here. And treat all other black employees bad over here, too. So I took it to my own hands and handled the problem. I wish I could have got more of the people.”
A police investigation concluded there was no evidence to support the claim of racism.
Claudette Carveth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Consumer Protection, said Wednesday that her department’s enforcement division has been investigating the website since receiving a complaint on May 7.
She said they have no record of that memorial fund being registered with the state.
“We will continue to look at this organization, its intent and its practices and make sure they are complying with the law,” she said.
Christopher Roos, a manager of the Teamsters local that represents workers at the warehouse, said he and other employees are upset by the site, which he said has opened even more wounds.
“It’s basically her insinuating that these guys were racist, the company was racist and that the Teamsters are racist, and that isn’t true,” he said. “If she wants to have a fund for her son, that’s fine, but don’t say it’s for racism, because that isn’t why he did it. He did it because he had psychological problems.”
Holliday, who did not immediately return phone calls and emails from The Associated Press, told WTIC-TV she should be allowed to grieve in her own way.
“That is my son. That’s my baby. And as his mother, I should have the right to do whatever I want to do in my son’s honor,” she said. “And I don’t know why would that make them upset.”
Holliday also said that she plans to use the funds donated to the website to conduct an independent investigation of the shootings.