ROCHESTER, Minn. (WCCO) — Neighbors are speaking out against a Rochester family’s yard display which features an empty chair hanging from a noose tied to a tree.
They created the display after the Republican National Convention, when Clint Eastwood addressed an empty chair meant to represent President Barack Obama.
Kevin Mulholland said his display is not a representation of hate speech, but simply his own political beliefs.
“This guy needs to go. He needs to get fired. I mean, people need to kick him out of the white house,” said Mulholland. “People say that I’m racist. Well, maybe I am a little toward this president. I’m not toward black people, I am toward the President of the United States.”
This family also recently added a bayonet through the chair’s seat after Obama mentioned “horses and bayonets” in the third debate with his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Neighbors said they saw a clear message being delivered through the political display.
“A lynching, immediately. That was my personal opinion seeing it,” said Jim Postier, of Kasson. “I just visualized a lynching. You see a large mass with a noose.”
The Diversity Council says that the display “illustrates hate and violence” and also “violates the values that the majority of our community holds,” according to executive director Kay Hocker.
“I know that many people will view it as hate speech or a display of hatred, and while that is not illegal, it is damaging to people and hurtful to people,” said Hocker.