Noose displayed as political protest draws condemnation by local politicians
There's a noose on display in front of one home in Buffalo's Seneca-Babcock neighborhood and it's not a Halloween prop. It is part of what the homeowner admits is a political protest, but the symbol of that protest isn't sitting well with many, including several local elected officials.
The noose hangs in front of a house that is also draped with several flags and banners expressing support for presidential candidate Donald Trump. There's a tombstone next to the gallows suggesting any name could be inserted on it.
WBFO met the homeowner, Egbert Bickley, outside his house. He confirmed his display was a political protest.
"It's part of the whole package that's symbolizing how I'm upset with the politicians of Western New York, how I'm upset with everybody and what we've become and where I think we're going," Bickley said.
Others, though, see it as a painful reminder of a troubled time in U.S. history when African-Americans were subject to lynching. Three local elected officials, Erie County Legislators Patrick Burke and Barbara Miller Williams and State Senator Tim Kennedy, jointly condemned the display.
"We believe very strongly that this sort of symbolism, this negative hateful imagery, has no place," Kennedy said in his office Friday afternoon. "Not only in the great City of Buffalo, the city of good neighbors, but anywhere in our state and our great nation."
Kennedy adds, though, that it is Bickley's right to express himself as he has chosen, though he urges the homeowner to take the noose down. Bickley told WBFO he has received backlash including death threats.
WBFO asked him if he understands how the noose may upset some people and how they may interpret the symbol.
"I've learned that now," he replied. "I've learned that a lot. I've also considered that it's been so upsetting to people that I've considered taking it down. But then, I think that defines my right."
Bickley admitted having concerns about his safety. Kennedy also expressed concerns about the neighborhood and the risk of vandalism.
"When you use that sort of hateful imagery that symbolizes the worst of our nation's past, it pulls at people's heartstrings and emotions," Kennedy said. "Often times people act out because of that. The potential is certainly there for vandalism and that's unacceptable."
Kennedy said he has no plans to meet with Bickley and while he recognizes his freedom of speech, he is hopeful Bickley will think again and take down the noose.