Noose Display Sparks Controversy (Photos)

Oklahoma highway noose displays acting as a warning to people to stay away from the area when it's dark has sparked controversy.

The signs were posted by Merle Martindale after he was a victim of both theft and violent crime, KFOR reports.

Yet for some the noose reminded them of a darker side of American history: the lynching of many African Americans.

"The hangman's noose has come to be one of the most powerful visual symbols directed against African-Americans, comparable in the emotions that it evokes to that of the swastika for Jews," explains the Anti-Defamation League, who call it a "key hate symbol targeting African-Americans."

They add that the noose quickly became associated with the Ku Klux Klan shortly after the Civil War when violence "replaced slavery as one of the main forms of social control that whites used on African-Americans."

Even today, it is still often intentionally used to intimidate African-Americans and minorities, they explain.

Terrance Reed was one of many drivers who pulled over in shock after seeing the infamous hate symbol, KJRH reports.

"When I looked over there, I was like, 'are those nooses hanging there?'" he recalls.

“If you think of a noose in America, it doesn’t represent anything but what used to happen to African Americans,” Reed said. “He got the right to do what he wants to do, he’s got a right to feel what he wanna feel, but I got a right to be angry about it too, and I’m angry.”

Martindale explained he had the nooses hung up to frighten potential thieves, not as a racist statement.

Reed says that is not the message most drivers received.

“If you put up a sign that says I advise you not to hang around here after dark, you’re making a statement,” said Reed.

Driver Dennis Varner agreed with Reed.

"It bothers me," he said. "It's humiliating. It's discrimination, and America shouldn't put up with it."

"They're better than this, Varner added. "They shouldn't have this stuff thrown at their face."

Police say Martindale has not committed any crime by putting up the signs.

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Sources: KFOR, The Anti-Defamation League and KJRH/Photo Credit: KJRH2D/Twitter

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