Controversy has erupted over a Maple Ridge home’s Halloween display that includes dummies hanging from a gallows, with critics taking to social media to call the display a racially insensitive reference to violence against Black people.
Homeowner Calvin Meier, who said the gallows has been part of his family’s annual Halloween display for the last five years, rejected the charge.
“To say this is a racial thing disgusts me and infuriates me,” Meier declared Saturday, Oct. 31.
He said the dangling dummies don’t have a particular ethnicity, and are not a reference to lynchings.
“This is about medieval times,” Meier said.
His display in the 23600 block of 119th Avenue also includes a guillotine with a headless, and a torture scene feature a saw and a body that has been cut open.
Meier said the source of the complaints was an resident who has complained every year, but didn’t suggest it was racist until this year.
He said he has had several verbal clashes with the woman, who on one occasion, according to Meier, threatened to burn his home-built display down.
On social media, comments have ranged from calling the display “disgusting” to an “embarrassment to Maple Ridge.”
Former CTV anchor Tamara Taggart weighed in to write that she has a friend who has Black sons who live nearby and “see this lynching everyday. The bodies wiggle in the noose. This is not funny.”
This disgusting scene is on display every Halloween in #MapleRidge The owners laugh at anyone who complains + the local paper lists it as a ‘house to visit’. My friend + her Black sons live nearby + see this lynching everyday. The bodies wiggle in the noose. This is not funny. pic.twitter.com/O36jlPd5Gr
— Tamara Taggart (@tamarataggart) October 31, 2020
Editor’s note: the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows News did not promote this as a place to visit.
Maple Ridge mayor Michael Morden said while the display isn’t criminal, it meets the definition of a “nuisance” under city regulations.
“This play doesn’t meet the test of acceptable in my mind,” Morden commented.
However, the city has so far only received two of the three complaints necessary to formally proceed with full enforcement, the mayor added.
Maple Ridge councillor Kiersten Duncan called it “disturbing.”
For his part, Meier said most people appear to enjoy the display, and he has no plans to take it down.
“They will stay up.”