Halloween Displays With Nooses Raise Specter of Racism in South Jersey
ALLOWAY — History has come to haunt a gruesome Halloween display on the porch of a South Jersey home as well as a seasonal post on a restaurant's Facebook page.
Nelson Carney Jr., president of the Salem County NAACP, told the Townsquare News Network that the figure of a person with a burlap bag over its head hanging on the porch of a Greenwich Avenue home was brought to his attention by several people who were offended.
"People can take it any way they want. But in this day and age, my thing is the noose. If he didn't have that noose on it, I think he could have gotten away without anyone complaining about it," Carney said.
Alloway's annual Halloween parade is Saturday and Carney hoped the owner of the home, identified by NJ.com as Joel Jiannone, would take it down by then.
Nelson said he reported the display to the Salem County Prosecutor's Office because the township does not have its own police department. He said he has not heard back from prosecutors.
Nelson said he doesn't know whether the display constitutes any crime, but he does not believe the homeowner should face any charges.
"The township has been known for racism before," Nelson said. He cited a similar incident in which police had to order a display be taken down. "Hopefully it won't get out of hand."
Salem County Prosecutor John Lenahan told NJ.com he sent detectives from his office to speak with Jiannone on Thursday but he was not home.
Jiannone told the news site that he is a Halloween and horror movie fan and said a cowboy hanging from a water tower at the Creamy Acres haunted hayride in Mullica Hill inspired him. He said he is willing to take it down if anyone is offended. He enjoys going to horror conventions and has met Alice Cooper twice.
"We've hung it for the last three years. I've never had that much trouble with it. I didn;t thing I was offending anyone. " Jiannone told the Townsquare News Network. He said his son-in-law owns the home.
Jiannone said he used to host big Halloween parties and loves the holiday so much he used to drive a hearse. "It was my pride and joy."
Carney said as of Friday morning the figure was still on Jiannone's front porch.
The display is not the only Halloween-related controversy involving a noose.
The Gloucester County NAACP asked the Adlephia Restaurant in Deptford to remove a photo from their Facebook page of a prize-winning costume showing a cowboy holding a noose around a man's neck. The man is not black.
"The American history of lynching black people is well known and the 'hangman's noose' has been a historical symbol of intimidation," president Loretta Winters wrote in a letter to the restaurant, according to NJ.com.
The story said Adelphia posted a response on its Facebook defending the post as "nothing but a photo." However, the photo and response were not found on the restaurant's Facebook page on Friday morning.