Racially offensive Halloween display removed

HOUSTON Resident Vincent Oliver said, "To me it shows bad taste, I wouldn't do it personally."

Oliver was just driving through his old neighborhood when a so-called Halloween lawn decoration caught his eye, and caused him to shake his head.

He said, "If it is a Halloween decoration, I mean, there's a bunch of other ways to do it than having a black character portrayed as a slave master to a white individual picking cotton."

The lawn decoration was put up a few days ago by a man and his brother in front of their own house. Neither wanted to talk on camera, but told Eyewitness News off camera they moved the decoration to a nearby abandoned home after Houston police officers began frequenting the area and taking photos of their set up.

Houston Police Officers Union President Gary Blankenship said, "If you ask my opinion, I think the thing's in bad taste. I certainly don't think it promotes peace and harmony in the neighborhood."

The Houston Police Officers Union says it doesn't like the display but there is nothing illegal about it. And even though the overwhelming majority of people we talked to found it offensive, there was at least one exception.

"Freedom of speech and everything, I think it's pretty nice," said neighbor Allen Samuel. "I think it should bring out the Halloween spirit."

The lawn ornament was removed Wednesday afternoon, much to the relief of Houston City Council Member Wanda Adams, who represents the area. She says the neighborhood is trying to rebuild and bring people together, not tear them apart.

"This is something that if it was reversed we would take it very offensive and very discriminatory to our race," Adams said. "I don't think this is something that should be displayed in any particular type of community."

The family who originally put the display up insists it was meant as a joke for Halloween, but plenty of people aren't laughing about it.

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