The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is demanding that Utah resident Kevin Van Miltenberg remove his homemade Halloween decoration of a man hanging from a noose, calling it a “mockery of the history of lynchings in our country.”
“The NAACP finds the hanging character to be extremely offensive. There is no doubt what this is,” the organization said in a statement, reports the Standard-Examiner. “The founding in 1909 and history of the NAACP was because of the many lynchings in our country and has become synonymous with the lynchings of African Americans. This display makes a mockery of the history of lynchings in our country.”
Van Miltenberg insists that he never intended to offend anyone. “In no way did I make it in a racist context,” he said according to the Standard-Examiner. “By no means am I a racist.”
Van Miltenberg said he has been hanging this Halloween display for years, adding that it was first inspired by hangings in the Old West. He also pointed out that the hangman’s hands are white.
Ogden NAACP president Rev. Stanley Ellington said the Halloween decoration is offensive no matter what Van Miltenberg’s intention was.
Shortly after Ellington filed a complaint with Roy City Police, he was informed that there was absolutely no legal ground to force Van Miltenberg to take down his display. A Roy City Police spokesman affirmed that Mr. Van Miltenberg’s display and his right to hang it are both constitutionally protected.
There were 1,297 white and 3,446 black people lynched in America from 1882 to 1968, according to the Tuskegee Institute.