Neighborhood group hopes landlord will reconsider evicting man who put up hanging Halloween display

The person responsible for this lawn display has been evicted from his Emerson Heights rental home. (Photo: WTHR)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The stuffed dummy hanging from a noose on a pole with hands tied behind the back is gone, and the man who built it may be gone, too.

The hanging was part of an elaborate Halloween display in front of a house in the Emerson Heights neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.

The display included handmade wood coffins, skeletons, a scarecrow and rickety fence. But many people in the community found the hanging display terribly disturbing, and it has resulted in the home renter losing his lease.

A group of protesters gathered in front of the home on Emerson Avenue just north of Michigan Street Thursday night. They represented many in the community who associated the hanging display with the lynching of African Americans.

"This is a part of life that people endured,” Sity Wright said, who lives in Emerson Heights. “People suffered. This doesn't have anything to do with Halloween — nothing. It's scary but to who?”

"That pole was made,” Brittany Day, who drives by the display, said. “You took time and effort into that. Then to put the noose around the neck. I'm trying not to be so sad about it. It's troubling."

"He's using this Halloween display in a disguise for racism,” said Emerson Heights resident Montenique Scott.

The dummy was taken down during the protest with the landlord's permission.

The man who lives at the home and built the front yard display works at a Halloween store. Shane Fischer was at work as he learned about the growing outrage.

"There's been lots of people through the course of history - pirates, witches - for any or no reason, horse thieves in Texas are a big example. Lots of people in mass numbers have been hung,” said Fischer. “I just view it as entertainment for the season of Halloween. I'm not trying to offend anyone."

Property owner Alex Tachtiris provided this statement Thursday:

Thank you for reaching out to notify me of the offensive Halloween display, as I was not aware of the situation. I am indeed the owner of the property, and the offending party are (apparently) my tenants. Not only that, those same tenants were asked by me just last year to take down what I must assume was a similar display that I had myself noticed while driving by the property, to which they then complied. The fact that they would try this again is completely disgraceful and I am notifying them now to not only take the display down immediately, but that I am giving them official notice of termination of their lease.

Thank you again for the information; I am mortified and embarrassed that this has occurred at one of my properties.

Many people in the neighborhood, including some who wanted the hanging removed believe that Fischer should not have to leave his residence. The Emerson Heights Neighborhood Association is trying to intervene.

"I think the landlord has the opportunity to reconsider, looking at the totality of the tenant’s stay in the community,” Ryan Wilson, Emerson Heights Neighborhood Association Secretary, said. “They've been a strong partner in neighborhood crime watch. They've served their neighbors hot dogs and hamburgers on community days. I don't think that this is an individual that meant harm."

Many houses in Emerson Heights are already decorated for Halloween. Wilson hopes the neighborhood will heal, celebrate and continue dialogue.

On Friday, many of the other decorations were also gone from the yard in addition to the hanging dummy.

"I just try to entertain and maybe creep out my neighbors a little bit,” said Fischer. “I did not expect it to be quite so poorly received as it was."

Fischer says this is not the first year he has displayed the hanging, but it will be the last.