Just Halloween or racist display of hate? Community divided over neighbor's decor

"The first thing I thought of was a modern day lynching," said Christol Stevenson.

Christol Stevenson says she couldn't believe her eyes when she saw what looked like a person hanging from a tree in front of a home on Cassville Road in Bartow County.

"It definitely is racist to me. It's very insulting to the Black community," said Stevenson.

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A Halloween decoration is getting unwanted attention after the Bartow County NAACP says it appears to include an effigy of a Black person.

Another woman, Andrean, says she was just as shocked the first time she saw it.

"I was driving by with my daughter, my son, my nephew, and they were mortified because they thought it was a human being – and a Black human being at that – hanging  from this tree," said Andrean.

Dexter Benning, president of the Bartow County NAACP, says he's gotten calls from people who are appalled and offended.

"Black folks have endured so much in this country, and to depict someone being [hanged] is not a place that we want to be in 2023," said Benning.

Benning says it appears to depict a Black man because the character has brown gloves.

The president of the Bartow County NAACP said the "character" appeared to depict a Black person as it was wearing brown gloves.

"They're just garden gloves I had that were going to go in the trash," said Rachel, the woman who lives in the home.

Rachel says it's nothing more than a Halloween decoration she threw together. Her kids named it "Mr. Spooky."

"I've had tons of people driving by taking pictures, beeping, giving me a thumbs up saying that's awesome. But then, I have other people calling the cops on me saying it's racist," said Rachel.

Rachel said that wasn't her intention at all and said if it was causing that much trouble, she would consider taking it down.  

In the two weeks since putting it up, law enforcement officers were called to the house twice. Once by a neighbor saying it was racist and it shouldn't be allowed to stay, and once by Rachel and her family who called 911 after a neighbor came on to the property and tore it down. At that time, the family put it back up.

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Rachel had the display taken down Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening, the family took the display down for good.

"I was just trying to make a Halloween decoration, something spooky for the kids and the adults to look at [and] enjoy," said Rachel.