Robert Tomanovich, a business owner and resident of Livonia, has ruffled a lot of feathers over the past couple weeks. According to the WXYZ, the 55-year-old has created quite a debacle that news outlets are calling a “noose controversy.” Apparently, he’s been decorating around his home and businesses, but local residents aren’t too pleased with the seemingly offensive decor – Confederate flags and nooses. However, there’s actually very little that can be done to rectify the problem because, technically, he’s not breaking any laws.
The Livonia Police Department has stated Tomanovich’s behavior can’t be described as any type of hate crime because his actions aren’t blatantly directed toward any particular ethnic group. The small loophole is something Tomanovich’s neighbors definitely aren’t pleased about. Of course, many residents feel the mocking gestures are a subliminal message. However, as long as it remains subliminal, there’s reportedly nothing that can be done. During a recent interview, two of his neighbors voiced their frustrations. Surprisingly, the people complaining are not African Americans.
“Its a tree that is easily climbable,” Nicole Behrendt, a neighbor said. “Any kid could climb the tree and hang himself.”
“150 years after Abraham Lincoln’s death, we are still going through this kind of atrocities. A hangman’s noose and a Confederate flag?” asked Tomanovich’s next door neighbor, Mary Greer.
Another neighbor even started a petition to boycott Tomanovich’s offensive behavior. He’s urging local residents to sign the petition in an effort to boycott Tomanovich’s tree service.
— UIF America (@UIF_America) April 21, 2015
Although his neighbors are highly offended by the controversial gesture, Tomanovich and his wife, Lindy, insist people have it all wrong. He recently spoke out about the incident with clarity on his perspective of racism. Tomanovich stated that he has black friends and is not racist. His wife also shared their reasoning for the nooses, reports Daily Mail.
“Screw ’em,” Tomanovich said of the people he’s offended.
“Robert has a friend that died in that way (hanging himself), and that’s in memory of his friend,” Lindy said. “Well maybe they got too much time on their hands,” she said of the complaining neighbors. “There’s no crime in hanging a noose.”
In addition to the controversy he’s caused in his resident area, there’s now a debate about his definition of racist. Discussions about the noose debacle have taken place on a number of news sites. While some readers agree with Tomanvoch’s sentiment, others simply aren’t buying it. Needless to say, Tomanovich has been called every offensive name in the book. Many readers have also described his behavior as “idiotic” and “immature.”However, that’s not all. The noose controversy has also sparked a debate about the symbolism of the Confederate flag.
“I have black friends.” No sir you do not. This is the quintessential line from all those caught acting racist (and homophobic) – I have black friends, I have gay friends. No you don’t – because if you did – you wouldn’t be so ignorant and realize what you are doing is just wrong,” one reader commented.
“FREEDOM OF SPEECH – I support them! Good for them!!! I SUPPORT THEM!!!”
“The Confederate flag is not part of U.S. history. That flag represented the Confederate States of America, not the United States of America. Read your history and get your facts straight, SUBLIMINAL18.”
Tomanovich has also made it clear that he has no plans to take any of the nooses or Confederate flags down. In fact, he plans to add more to his collection. However, the Livonia Police Department has stated that they will work to see if the situation can be mediated, so the residents can come to an amicable agreement.
Do you think Robert Tomanovich’s actions denote racism? Should hanging nooses and Confederate flags be considered a hate crime? Share your thoughts.
[Image via WXYZ Screen Capture]