Mother says Halloween hangman display misinterpreted by neighbors

A Halloween display on the front yard of one family's home in Newark has attracted unwanted attention.

They hung a life-size figure from a tree, offending neighbors and drawing complaints.

Some went online to criticize the family and one even threatened them.

The family says it's part of their Halloween display that went up Wednesday. By the next day, the complaints started.

"We had a hangman and people took it the wrong way," says the mother of two, who spoke with KTVU on the condition that she not be identified.

She says she handmade the figure. "We just put it up because we wanted it to look scary."

The resident says this is the first time she's put up a Halloween display during the 15 years her family has lived here. It's a way to celebrate Halloween during the pandemic.

"We did it for our kids, for them to have a good time because they're not going to be able to go out to go trick or treating," says the woman. 

She says the day after the display went up, police came by and told her they had received complaints from neighbors. In response, she put a Hulk mask on the figure and a sign that reads "Halloween props are not real."

"It's not against the law, but just in poor taste," says Newark Mayor Alan Nagy.

He says because it's not against the law, police can not ask her to take down the hanging figure.

"We are living in some sensitive times now," Nagy says.

But the woman did take down the figure as of Monday afternoon.

Neighbor Kristine King who has her own Halloween display, had this reaction, "I did think it was distasteful and probably they should have thought twice before putting it up considering everything that's going on right now."  

One African American neighbor says years ago, people would burn crosses on his lawn.

He was not offended by the display.

"There's a lot of bad things that go on. I didn't feel like that was their intent," says Donald Glaude, who lives just down the block from the display.  

The resident shows KTVU some of the many online comments critical of her display. One wrote,"What's the closest cross street? I'm going to rip it down."

"Honestly, I'm sorry if I hurt someone. It didn't mean anything," says the woman. 

She says she's Mexican-American and knows racism.

She says she has no intention of displaying the figure again and that it was not meant to be a statement of any kind.