Residents in a Bay City, Mich. neighborhood are upset over what they believe is a political statement gone wrong: a dummy hanging from a noose.
The dummy hanging from Richard O’Hara’s porch is not welcomed by his neighbors, who say the sight of a figure hanging from a noose is racist and in poor taste.
“To have a lynching of a dummy on a front porch, obviously, you know, it’s Black people, and it’s offensive,” Sasha Robinson, Bay City resident, told local television station WNEM 5.
Helene Narvaiz, who lives just two houses down from O’Hara, who is White, told Michigan Live that she went to city officials when O’Hara initially put up the display. She said she was told the dummy was too abstract to force O’Hara to remove it. Those words from officials have not tempered Narvaiz’s disgust.
“I’ve lived here 27 years and I’ve never seen anything like that,” she said. “It’s disgusting. My grandkids come here and ask me what it’s supposed to mean. They’re too young to understand.”
O’Hara, a World War II veteran, told several Michigan news outlets that the display, mounted in 2008, is meant to represent Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. He says he has no racist intent and he doesn’t plan on taking it down.
“It’s nobody’s business but mine,” he told WNEM 5. When he was asked about his neighbor’s feelings he responded, “Well, what do I care about them?”
He may not care, but with more complaints rolling in, city officials have begun to take a second look at the nearly two year-old display. Bay City Mayor Charles Brunner told WNEM 5 “if it starts being offensive to people, then we’ll start looking into it to see what we can do.”
O’Hara maintains he’s not bigoted and that it’s his right to keep the display. “Well, do I look like a racist to you dear, huh? I look like a tired old man, that’s what I look like.”