Racist and threatening messages about President Obama continue to pop up around the country, though a sign with an image of a noose in rural Wisconsin wasn’t intended to be a threat, according to the man who put up the sign on his property.
Tom Savka told the NBC affiliate WGBA that he is an Obama supporter and was merely trying to attract attention with the racially charged graphic, which features an image of a noose next to the words, “Hang In There Obama.”
“If it is causing this much attention, then that’s good,” Savka said, when told that his sign is distressing drivers. “If it gets you off your dead butt, gets you away from watching the football game, and go out and vote.”
According to the television reporter, from far away it looks like the sign says “Hang Obama” next to a picture of a noose. Perhaps sensing that people would get the wrong message, Savka painted “I love Obama” at the bottom of the sign, but the words are very small.
Savka told the WGBA that he’s trying to boost Obama during the last weeks of the campaign.
The message is “never give up. Don’t quit. I don’t care about the noose around your neck, I don’t care if you’re hanging,” Savka said.
A popular symbol that’s being used in racist displays around the country is an empty chair, popularized by Cling Eastwood at the Republican National Convention in August. One California resident erected a montage that featured an empty chair, two watermelons, and a sign reading, “Go back to Kenya you idiot.”
In both Texas and Virginia, homeowners who oppose the president created displays in their front yard that appeared to “lynch” empty chairs. Bud Johnson, the Republican man responsible for the Texas display, later added an American flag before finally cutting the chair down.
“Someone always wants to say, ‘you’re making a big deal out of it, it’s just a chair,’” Burnt Orange editor Katherine Haenschen told NBC. “But I don’t see how you can dismiss the racial message of lynching a symbol of the first African-American president. It’s really tough for me to see how folks might, after the Eastwood speech, not view this as a racially charged message and a symbol of a threat to the president’s life.”