MANNINGTON, N.J. (CBS) — A homeowner is issuing an apology after a Halloween display sparked controversy in a Salem County community. The display shows a dummy hanging from a noose.
Someone spotted it at a home in Mannington, Salem County and now the NAACP is involved and an investigation is underway.
Ryan McDonald tells Eyewitness News it was just meant to be a part of a Halloween display, but it wasn’t received that way by some in the community once police showed up to his front door.
“The hangman’s noose was going to be a part of a pirate theme that we did, and I guess some people just thought it wasn’t quite appropriate,” McDonald said.
EXCLUSIVE: Emotions ran high in Salem Co. this morning, after a mannequin as spotted hanging from a noose in front of a man’s home. He spoke with us on camera tonight & says he can understand why people were offended but it was only meant to be on display for Halloween.@CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/NbIib7iI09
— Kimberly Davis CBS3 (@KimberlyDavisTV) September 26, 2019
Many who drove by McDonald’s home found what he calls “a Halloween display” not only disturbing, but offensive. In fact, they contacted police, as well as the Salem County president of the NAACP.
“Put a scarecrow up on a bale of hay, we don’t care. But if it has a noose around its neck, we don’t care what color. We’re not going to accept it,” Salem County NAACP President Nelson Carney Jr. said.
This is the picture that has been circulating on social media.
After police showed up to McDonald’s home, he took down the display.
But the NAACP president says the Office of the Attorney General is now investigating the display as a possible hate crime.
“It was just something to, you know, set up for Halloween as an actual prop to have fun. And I apologize to anybody that took it in any type of ill-mannered way,” McDonald said.
But when Eyewitness News arrived to the 500 block of State Highway 45, we spotted a Confederate flag in his backyard from the highway — something he denies putting up but promptly took down.
“I can understand why that would be an issue, but we’re not a racist family at all,” McDonald said.
McDonald called his friend to speak to his character.
“He doesn’t mean anything bad by it, but I do know people and I don’t know if I would do that,” McDonald’s friend, Ian Goode, said.
McDonald says he won’t be displaying the hangman prop again. The NAACP is hoping it’s an incident that won’t be repeated.
“At this time, I accept his apology, but he needs to be educated more on the history of African Americans,” Carney said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Office of the Attorney General but has yet to receive a response on the investigation.