Boone County resident removes 'hanging Obama' display
By Steve Jefferson, WTHR Crimebeat reporter - bio | email
BOONE COUNTY -
A Boone County veteran who hung an image of President Barack Obama in a noose says he's done with the display.
The Secret Service questioned Eric Smith about the Halloween decoration before he took it down.
"I knew it would spark controversy," Smith said.
When Smith went shopping for Halloween decorations for his front yard, he came across an Obama mask.
"Picked it up, brought it home, set it up as an original Halloween decoration, nothing more," he said.
For starters, Smith says he gave in to public pressure to remove the Obama mask tied to his fence, but then had second thoughts.
"If you think this is racism, I am going to make you even more mad, so it was kind of like, 'Right back at you'," Smith said.
So the Iraq War veteran, who says the mother of his three children is African-American, decided to take it up a notch and put the mask on a dummy hanging from a noose. That display eventually got him a visit from the Secret Service.
"I spent 45 minutes being questioned by them. They were asking history, where have I been and who I hang out with, all that stuff," Smith said.
He says taking the mask down came with mixed emotions, because so many people misinterpreted his actions. He says the way he displayed his former Commander-in-chief had nothing to do with race.
"Because he had rope, they associated it with racism," he said.
But had everything to do with his freedom of speech about how he personally feels about the President.
A Boone County man has decided to take down a controversial Halloween display that depicts President Obama hanging from a noose.
The former National Guardsman, who did not wish to give his name, lives at the intersection of State Roads 47 and 39. His display contained a makeshift man hanging by noose wearing a mask of President Barack Obama.
The man told Eyewitness News that Secret Service agents paid him a visit, but they agreed he was within his First Amendment rights and did not pose an actual threat to the president.
However, that's not why he decided to take the display down. He tells Eyewitness News in an email that it's been "mentally exhausting" dealing with all the attention the display received. He also says he considered the safety of his family, including his three children.
The former soldier suffered an injury on his tour of duty in Iraq which resulted in the loss of one eye. He argued that preconceived notions that his display is racist is incorrect because although he is Caucasian, his wife is African-American. They met in school and have three children together.
It is routine for the Secret Service to investigate potential threats to the president. The US attorney says they would only pursue charges if the Secret Service investigation concluded there was a genuine threat.