The owner of a Pennsylvania bar insists his Halloween display showing a mask hanging from a noose isn’t racist, but outraged customers think otherwise.
Jasmine Mull told CBS Pittsburgh she stormed out of the Kickstand Bar and Restaurant in Elizabeth when she saw the dark-colored mask hanging from the wall with a noose wrapped around its neck. Mull snapped photos of the offensive display and blasted the restaurant on social media.
“I don’t think anybody should accept that symbol, white, black, Chinese, African, Asian,” said Mull, who’s biracial. “I don’t accept it. I don’t think anybody should accept it.”
“To me, it symbolizes discrimination, hatred, poor choice of display for business,” she added, calling the decorations “absolutely disgusting.”
Bar owner Skip Riggle doesn’t see the issue, however, and is less-than-thrilled about the attention it’s gotten him. Riggle denied being racist and said the display was a part of the restaurant’s Halloween decorations.
“That’s a devil. It’s a devil mask,” he said, describing the mask as “red.” “We hung it up with our Halloween decorations, and we took them down.”
In an interview with CBS Pittsburgh, Riggle insisted the mask came with the noose when he purchased it from Party City. When asked if he saw why some might deem the decorations as offensive, the bar owner replied, “It could be, but it’s the devil. It’s not a Black guy, it’s the devil.”
Online critics were quick to point out that the “devil” didn’t have any horns, however.
“According to them it represents the devil. According to me it’s racism,” customer Ashlyn Brierre wrote on Twitter.
A fellow Twitter user said they called the bar and “a woman answered after about 20 rings. When I asked if they still have racist decoration up, she said ‘have a blessed day’ and hung up. Mighty fine Christians they got there.”
“This is appalling and unacceptable!” another critic chimed in.
With all the hubbub, Riggle says he’s now considering filing a defamation lawsuit against Mull. The restaurant and bar has since deactivated its Facebook page.
Mull said she still expects an apology.
“I would like them to take it down. I would like an apology,” she said. “Honestly, I would just like their input on it. Why do they have it there?”
Watch more in the clip below.