Note: we are republishing this story ahead of the Halloween holiday to raise awareness about increased scrutiny regarding Halloween costumes and decorations. More and more people are thinking twice about their Halloween displays to be mindful of other people’s sensitivities especially amid a national conversation about racism and racial justice.
A Halloween display in a Fitchburg yard was taken down on Wednesday after pictures were shared on social media, sparking controversy.
The display featured a skeleton hanged on a tree, which many commenters called a representation of lynching.
Fitchburg Mayor Aaron Richardson stated that police had spoken with the homeowner about removing the skeleton after he received multiple calls about the display. He expressed his frustration over the fact that the display was put up in the first place.
A man was seen removing the decoration, but he said that he wasn’t the homeowner, and denied to comment.
Alder Joe Maldonado received multiple complaints about the display through emails and his phone.
“This is unacceptable. This isn’t something that should be displayed in our city,” he said.
Maldonado stated that the city had no policies prohibiting such displays, but that it may offend community members.
“You may or may not see that, but for somebody that has a direct connection to this, it’s incredibly painful,” he said.
China Miller, who lives down the street from the yard in question, stated that it didn’t feel like Halloween.
“This is very heartbreaking, and I think that the person who put it up was very insensitive of us Black and Brown people. That’s just hard to watch, to even keep going over there and looking at it. It just shouldn’t be there,” Miller said.
Nicholas Schoenick stated that his neighbor always builds a Halloween display every year.
“The collection always seems to change and it’s always something different,” he said, adding that he didn’t think the display was put up out of malice.
“He’s not the kind of guy who’s out to offend people,” he said. “He’s out to bring joy.”
The two other skeletons hanged by a noose, which were part of a larger Halloween display in the yard, were also removed.