Confederate flags and nooses hanging from trees in Michigan have local residents outraged and upset.
Robert Tomanovich owns two properties in Livonia, Michigan, his home on Purlingbrook Street and his business, Robert’s Discount Tree Service.
He decided to decorate his home with Confederate flags and nooses. After complaints from neighbors who were offended by the display, a second noose was hung on a tree near his store, 7 Action News reported (video below).
“Its a tree that is easily climbable,” Nicole Behrendt, a neighbor, told WXYZ. “Any kid could climb the tree and hang himself.”
Another neighbor who lives next door to the Tomanovich’s business was appalled by the racial implications that came with the display.
“A hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln’s death, we are still going through this kind of atrocities,” Mary Greer said. “A hangman’s noose and a Confederate flag?”
One neighbor was so fed up with Tomanovich’s antics he urged residents to boycott his tree cutting service.
WXYZ news reporter Jonathan Carlson approached Tomanovich for comment (video below), but he quickly bolted into his home. A longtime employee spoke instead.
The employee was asked if he thought the nooses were offensive and responded, “No, not at all. I love it.”
The proud employee went on to admit he was the one who hung the second noose and said he did it in retaliation over the complaints.
When asked about those who were offended by the display, the employee said “Screw ‘em.” He added that he wasn’t going to take them down and said he planned on putting more nooses up.
Tomanovich’s wife, Lindy, came out to defend her husband. She explained the meaning behind the nooses.
“Robert has a friend that died in that way (hanging himself), and that’s in memory of his friend,” Lindy said.
She added that the Confederate flag was not meant to be racist and it was hung because her husband’s family is from the South and they just like the way the flag looks.
“Well maybe they got too much time on their hands,” Lindy said of the people complaining about the flags and nooses. “There’s no crime in hanging a noose.”
Livonia Police told WXYZ that it is unlikely Tomanovich’s behavior would fall under a hate crime. Police said it does not appear anyone in particular was targeted because of their race, so they can’t classify it as a hate crime.
Police said they were willing to assist in mediating the situation.