An effigy of President Obama hung from an electronic billboard on election day in Duluth is under investigation as a criminal act. Community leaders say the city must confront this racist act.
The effigy of the President is a chilling reminder of another event in Duluth 92 years ago. That’s when three black men were lynched by a mob in the city’s downtown. From that tragedy came the Clayton, Jackson McGhie Memorial, named for the murdered men.
Memorial Co-Founder Henry Banks read a statement from the memorial committee saying it was an assault on Duluth’s integrity, “It was an act of injustice and exclusion. It was an ugly, hateful and blatantly racist to express one’s opposition to our nation’s first African American President on Election Day. As a community, we cannot tolerate bigotry and hate.”
Community activist Rayna Crowe says it’s vital to speak out against this kind of thing, “What this says to me that this happened in Duluth is that it’s still not safe to be a person of color in this community. It just breaks my heart.”
She believes this behavior comes from hateful talk on radio and TV as well as social media. Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Board member Richard Harbaugh agrees, “We really need to change the culture that makes these kinds of acts okay or even funny. They’re not funny and they’re definitely not okay and these people need to realize what they’ve done.”
The Duluth chapter of the NAACP calls the hanging of the Obama effigy a terrorist threat to people of color. Duluth Police have made no arrests.