Molson Coors Beverage Co. resumed operations at its Milwaukee brewery complex Wednesday evening – one week after six of its employees, including the suspected shooter, were killed in a mass shooting.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult week for employees across our company,” said Adam Collins, chief communications and corporate affairs officer for Molson Coors, in a statement Thursday morning. “Earlier this week we began the healing process and last night we resumed operations in our brewery as we begin to slowly ramp production over the next couple of days. Even with that work beginning, our top priority remains supporting our colleagues and ensuring they have the on-site resources they need to cope with last week’s tragic events.”
Collins told reporters Thursday morning the brewery expects to be fully operational “in the next few days.”
“The lines will start running,” he said. “We’ll start brewing beer. We’ll start the packaging process. We’ll start up and ultimately we’ll start shipping as well. Those things are going to happen in the days ahead.”
Meanwhile, he said, the company is engaging in “deep introspection” as rumors have surfaced in the wake of the shooting that current and former employees have experienced a hostile and racist culture at the brewery. The company has acknowledged that the alleged shooter, 51-year-old Anthony Ferrill, who is African American, had experienced racial harassment at work. In 2015, a noose was found on his locker.
Milwaukee Police on Wednesday said, despite the rumors, there is no evidence that race or racism motivated the shooting. Police have released few details about how the incident unfolded and say it remains under investigation.
Collins said the company has begun talking with employees about their experiences, and has engaged outside organizations in that process.
Asked about the company’s culture, Collins said Molson Coors has “work to do.”
“We’ve seen a lot of rumors; I know you all have seen them too. Some of them have accuracy … some do not, and others we don’t know,” he said. “But what I do know is our commitment to solving that issue and tackling that issue head on. Because I know who we are and I know what we stand for, I know what we believe in.”
He said the process of addressing the company’s culture issues will take “weeks and months.”
“We are doing deep introspection as an organization, as any organization would do in the wake of something as horrific as what we saw last week … We are not going to shy away from a deep look inside our organization and how do we come out of this better,” he said.
The company has also received an outpouring of support over the past week, he said.
A GoFundMe campaign initiated by the company to support family members of those killed in the shooting surpassed $1 million last night.
“It’s been absolutely incredible,” Collins said of the community’s support. “And we just can’t thank enough the people from every neighborhood in Milwaukee and the communities in the surrounding area for their support.”