Halloween decorations conjure images of America's dark past - FOX 35 News Orlando

'Offensive' Halloween decorations conjure images of America's dark past

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Some residents say a St. Paul home's Halloween decor went from frightening to offensive, even though the people who live there say their decorations were misconstrued.

Sometimes, it's all a matter of perspective.

From the skull and crossbones in the window, to the jack-o-lanterns on the back steps. There's little doubt this house is decked out for Halloween. However, some of the decorations conjured up a different kind of horror story for some of the people who saw them.

"I said, ‘This can't be happening in 2013 that someone would put a lynching in their yard for Halloween,'" community activist Tyrone Terrell said.

Terrell says he got a call from a woman on Halloween night who was offended by these mannequins of what looked like a mother and daughter hanging from a tree in the backyard, their heads covered with black bags.

Terrell says the scenario was eerily similar to the infamous Duluth Lynchings in 1920 where three African American circus workers were murdered by a mob after rumors circulated they had beaten and raped a young white woman.

Plus, he says it's not far from where someone burned a cross in front of a mostly black church a few years back.

"It was appalling when you think about it as an African American. That's what happened to our people. They got hung in a tree. That happened to thousands of African Americans," Terrell said.

The men who rent the home say the mannequins are actually white and they put them up to make the yard scarier for kids because they've joked that their house is haunted by two women since they moved in. They say the mannequins were up for about a week with no complaints and one neighbor doubts they meant any harm.

"If it was on a normal night, I would question it but since it was Halloween, I would never question it."

Terrell says even though the men apologized and took the mannequins down after he called police, whether something is racially offensive is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes even the most innocent actions can have unintended consequences.

"Hanging nooses, swastikas, cross burnings. All those things are from a time in America that shouldn't be here anymore," he said.

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