An outdoor Halloween decoration the mayor of Fitchburg called “concerning” was taken down by the property owner Wednesday at the request of city officials.
The decoration — a skeleton hanging from a tree — was part of a Halloween display in a neighborhood on the city’s west side, Fitchburg police Sgt. Ryan Michaels said.
Posts to social media criticized the decoration outside a home at the corner of Williamsburg Way and Frontier Lane for being racially insensitive and specifically called out the display for depicting lynching or suicide.
Mayor Aaron Richardson said in a statement the city learned about the decoration Wednesday afternoon and a member of the Police Department spoke with the property owner and asked the person to reconsider the decoration, though it was not in violation of any law.
“We strongly value the diverse community we serve, and we recognize the impact this display may have on members of our community, specifically our African-American community members,” he said.
Michael Johnson, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, said in a post on Facebook he spoke with Fitchburg Alds. Gabriella March and José Miguel Maldonado, whose aldermanic district contains the property. Maldonado said he explained to the property owner “the image of a person hanging from a tree carries historical trauma, especially for Black people in America,” according to Johnson’s post.
Richardson said the resident was “completely understanding” of the concerns and had no wrong intentions associated with the decoration.
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