ST. JOSEPH, Missouri- A rope-suspended figure drawing recent attention has been deemed not racist by St. Joseph, Missouri police investigating the incident. In a message sent to a concerned citizen, police commander Eric Protzman says that since the doll is not black, it was not a racist and not a crime. He also said the decoration at the Deer Park home of Michael Miller and Eva Schelert has since been removed. “It is not racist, although some may take it as such,” Protzman said in reply to the complaint.
In a televised interview with KNPG, Schelert said the figure which she says is a witch was left up after Halloween to scare away intruders in the neighborhood. She claims a young black man who lived across the street attempted to break into their house. Schelert said the area hasn’t experienced problems since she hung the figure and tacked up a sign that reads, “Don’t Tread on Me. ”
The black family has since moved.
“The reason I have her hanging, she’s not nothing about race, it’s just a don’t tread on me, you’re more than welcome to come into my home, but when you try to break into my home I’m not going to take it,” Schelert said in the interview.
The image caught the attention of Facebook user Jennifer Turner-Boulch after it went viral on social media, she wrote the following:
“When I saw this image, my immediate response was that this was an effigy of a black woman. It looked like a black woman, and the tree trunk has the “Don’t Tread on Me” sign that is often tied to racists in our communities. I showed the image to some other people, with no commentary from me. Across the board, white, black or Native, the response was: “OMG. That is racist!” I think most reasonable Americans would look at this image and have similar thoughts. When paired with the signage on the tree trunk, it tends to lend credence to the initial response. Racism thrives when we are unwilling to call it what it is, and discuss it in the open. I feel that as a white woman, it is my duty to let people know that racism in our communities is not acceptable. Ever. ”