HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — A Halloween decoration in Harnett County has come down after sparking controversy within the community and online.

This display, shared hundreds of times on Facebook, shows what appears to be a fully-dressed man with his hands tied behind his back hanging from a tree outside a home in Coats.

Investigators with the Harnett County’s Sheriff Office tell WRAL the family says it was Halloween decoration meant to look like a farmer. Some residents say the display had racist undertones.

“Maybe we did take it the wrong way,” said Jenni Byrd, who lives in Harnett County. “And it did look a certain way that everyone was kind of confused about but i’m glad in the end, that’s not what it was representing.”

Investigators said the family took down the display after realizing the hurt it caused within the community.

They go on to say there aren’t policies banning such displays on private property.

DeAngelo McDougald spotted the controversial Halloween display and it was jarring upon his first glance.

“I just rode past it and it looked so real that I stopped,” McDougald said.

A display showing what appears to be a fully dressed man with his hands tied behind his back, hanging from a tree.

“If you’re passing by and you just glancing over, you’d be like ‘someone’s hanging from a tree.’”

McDougald posted the image to social media, hoping to bring light to the situation. As of tonight, it’s been shared more than 360 times.

Those who saw it in person said this hits close to home for families of color

“My daughter is biracial – she’s Black, white and Indian, and I don’t want her growing up seeing these things,” said Jenni Byrd.

When we drove by the home this evening, the display had been taken down.

Major Aaron Meredith with Harnett County Sheriff’s Office said investigators spoke with homeowners about the controversial display.

“It’s a Hispanic family and they said it was a simply a Halloween decoration they put up and once it was explained to them how it was perceived, they realized that and they were very apologetic and they took it down immediately,” Meredith said.

Harnett County residents who saw the decoration was thankful to see a positive resolution.

“If the intent of it wasn’t what we thought it was, then that’s the best outcome,” Byrd said.


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