Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press
FOWLERVILLE — A Livingston County auto shop’s Halloween decorations that depicted President Donald Trump holding former President Barack Obama’s head by a rope has drawn outrage from dozens of people who turned to social media to denounce the display as racist.
Quality Coatings owner Dave Huff has since altered the Trump scarecrow that stands outside his business on Carr Street in Fowlerville, about 10 miles west of Howell. Huff hadn’t expected backlash to the decorations because he said he’s not racist and “no race ever went into this thing.”
“It was a Halloween decoration that I guess went too far,” he told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday.
The original display, which he put up three weeks ago, showed a Trump scarecrow holding a black rope with an Obama mask attached to it. Some who criticized the display have said that the rope looked like a noose. Huff said it was meant to represent a spine and a move from the game Mortal Kombat.
It also depicted the Trump scarecrow with his foot on Hillary Clinton’s head.
Huff changed the scarecrow Friday, removing the rope and the Obama mask and adding yellow tape that reads, “PC-POLICE.”
Resident Kathy DeTroyer drew attention to the decorations Thursday in a Facebook post that said, in part, “I am disgusted this is in my hometown. Way to display your ignorance. Democrat or Republican this is just wrong.”
Huff said a village employee contacted him Friday morning to let him know about the Facebook comments.
The village is running a scarecrow decorating competition, but Quality Coatings was not registered.
As of Sunday afternoon, the business had received more than 40 negative Facebook reviews from people referencing the Halloween decorations, with many blasting the display as racist, violent and in poor taste.
“I’d rather spend my money with businesses that spread tolerance and respect, even towards those who you don’t align with,” Facebook user Kelly Kathleen wrote in a review posted Friday.
Meanwhile, a handful of Facebook commenters have come to Quality Coatings’ defense in recent days and applauded its work.
Quality Coatings has not publicly responded to the negative reviews. Huff invited critics to have a dialogue with him in person or over the phone as opposed to over social media.
DeTroyer said that she didn’t want to “shine a negative light” on Fowlerville or “ruin” Huff, but she felt compelled to speak up after she saw the scarecrow while driving by the business last week.
Robert Feeney, who lives across the street from Quality Coatings, noticed the scarecrow a few weeks ago and said he thought it was “pushing the boundaries.”
“He’s getting a little carried away with it, especially when he had Obama’s head hanging on a noose,” Feeney said.
Huff said he didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election and hasn’t favored one candidate over another.
“I don’t support anyone. I’ve never voted for anyone other than myself,” he said.