Oklahoma drivers were disturbed by a noose display along the side of the highway. The display shows three nooses hanging from a tree and signs with pictures of nooses warning people not to be in the area after dark.
“It’s best not to be hanging around this area after dark,” reads the sign on the tree.
Considering the dark history of lynching in America, it’s no surprise some residents were troubled by the image.
The NAACP reportsthat between the years of 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 officially reported lynchings in the U.S., with approximately 72 percent of the victims being African-American and approximately 27 percent of the victims being Caucasian. There have been no officially recorded lynchings in America since 1968.
Terrence Reed was one of many passersby that stopped to pull over in disbelief over the display. He views it as a mockery of his African-American heritage.
“If you think of a noose in America, it doesn’t represent anything but what used to happen to African-Americans,” Terrence told KFOR. “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.”
The owner of the display, Merle Martindale, says it is not meant to be racist. Martindale claims he was a victim of a violent crime and is using the nooses as a warning to any would-be criminal.
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However drivers like Reed say that Martindale’s message isn’t coming across as intended. “It bothers me. It’s humiliating,” driver Dennis Varner told KJRH. “It’s discrimination, and America shouldn’t put up with it.”
“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 told KFOR.
Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice says that Martindale is not in violation of any laws by having the nooses on display.
Drivers who find the nooses offensive said they hoped that Martindale will remove the display.
“They’re better than this. They shouldn’t have this stuff thrown at their face,” said Varner.
“We’re all human beings, we all got to be on this earth, and we all need to love each other. That’s the way God intended it to be,” said Reed.
According to KJRH, Martindale’s wife says her husband has since taken down the display.