An empty chair hangs from a tree with a sign that reads "Nobama." The incident has drawn criticism that is symbolizes the lynching of President Barack Obama. (Photo : Courtesy of Blue Virginia)
Two incidents involving empty chairs that were hung from trees by ropes in Virginia and Texas have some saying they are racially implicit displays symbolizing the "lynching" of President Barack Obama, NBC News reported. The incidents have also attracted the attention of the Secret Service.
The chairs are reminiscent of Hollywood actor Clint Eastwood's recent speech at the Republican National Convention where he spoke to an empty chair and pretended it was Obama.
In Centerville, Va., Lowell Feld posted a photo of an empty chair with a sign reading "Nobama" that was hung from a tree near the KORUS festival at Bull Run Park on his Democratic-leaning blog, Blue Virginia. According to Feld, the hanging empty chair "appears to be a crude metaphor for the lunching of President Obama."
The Centreville Patch reported that the display was found on a private property near the part and that three additional chairs had been put up. The local news site identified the property owner as Douglas Burger, who told Centreville Patch, "It's just Eastwooding." Burger also said he intended no racial display. "They're up because otherwise people would steal them," he told reporters.
In Austin, Texas, liberal-leaning blog Burnt Orange Report also posted a photo of a similar display attached to a tree branch outside of homeowner Bud Johnson's house. According to Burnt Orange Report editor, Katherine Haeschen, Johnson told her she could take her concerns "and go straight to hell and take Obama with you."
Haeschen reported that she called Johnson after receiving the photo to express her concerns on Wednesday. According to Haeschen, he responded, "I don't really give a damn whether it disturbs you or not. You can take [your concerns] and go straight to hell and take Obama with you. I don't give a [expletive]. If you don't like it, don't come down my street."
Johnson later removed the chair, but not before blowing up on reporters, CBS affiliate KEYE TV reported. Haenschen told NCB News, "There are other neighbors up there who are Republican who find this as offensive as anybody else does. Someone always wants to say, 'you're making a big deal out of it, it's just a chair.' But I don't see how you can dismiss the racial message of lynching a symbol of the first African-American president. It's really tough for me to see how folks might, after the Eastwood speech, not view this as a racially charged message and a symbol of a threat to the president's life."
Both NBC News and the Centreville Patch have reported that the Secret Service is looking into the incidents. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told NBC News, "The Secret Service is aware of this and will conduct appropriate followup."
According to NBC News, lynching, which involved killing people either by hanging or shooting by mobs who take the law into their own hands, occurred in the U.S. well into the 1950s. The events mostly took place in the South and had black victims.