Neighbors in a Little Rock, Arkansas, neighborhood are furious with an area homeowner who put up a Confederate flag and hung a mannequin painted black — an apparent reference to lynching — from a tree, Little Rock’s KLRT-TV reports.
The offending decorations are in the Greenwood Acres neighborhood, in southwestern Little Rock. The neighborhood consists of newer, but modest, homes. And some neighbors don’t believe that the unidentified homeowner’s decorations are appropriate for their neighborhood.
Tracy Sims, who lives nearby, called the decorations “offensive.”
“I saw that [Confederate] Flag and I found out it [was] someone near my home — it’s very disturbing. It is a free country but it’s very offensive,” Sims said.
Neighbor Ricky Allen is of a similar mind.
“This day of time, there’s no place for it. I saw a video of a noose, of a person of color, hanging from it. It’s kind of disturbing. It’s heartbreaking to know neighbors in the neighborhood is like that.”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, how the existence of the mannequin and Confederate flag were brought to the attention of local Little Rock media; KLRT would only say that the community was made aware of it via a “viral Facebook post.” Similarly, reporter Mitchell McCoy, of Little Rock’s KARK-TV, says that the decorations came to his attention via a “video on social media” that got traction.
Is It Legal?
Most likely. Generally, the First Amendment’s free speech protections extend to signage, decorations, and displays that homeowners put in their front yards, according to The Freedom Forum Institute. Those protections extend to “hate speech” as well, according to the website, Lawyers.
However, homeowners (or renters) who live in neighborhoods with covenants laid out by a Homeowners Association (HOA) are legally bound by the rules set forth in the agreements that they signed. It remains unclear if Greenwood Acres has an HOA or related covenants.
What Does The Homeowner Who Put Up The Display Have To Say?
Contacted by a KLRT reporter, the homeowner, whose name was not provided, said that the display was simply an old Halloween decoration that she hadn’t gotten around to taking down. Specifically, she said the mannequin was meant to represent a “Creeper” from the movie Jeepers Creepers. She didn’t explain how the Confederate flag was related.
Neighbors aren’t buying that explanation, however.
“She knows what it means and so does everyone else around here and everyone else too,” says Sims.
Meanwhile, the homeowner has taken down the offending decorations.