Right next to two school scarecrow displays is an empty spot. It’s where, “The Law and Disorder” display once stood. Some say the scarecrow scene is depicting blacks in a negative light. One scarecrow is holding a knife and one was even hanging from a noose. Long time Dothan resident Sam Crawford was disgusted by the display. “I don’t think the African American experience with lynching by lynch mobs or vigilantes or even legal forces can be put into a context of a joke or in fun.”
The scarecrows were removed after a complaint on Monday. First to go was the person hanging from the noose and then it was decided the entire scene had to go. The display had been up since the beginning of October. “The whole scene was offensive to the entire African American community specifically,and to the entire Dothan community as a whole,” continued Crawford.
Gina Mortimer agreed the scene was offensive. Mortimer brought her kids to the Botanical Gardens Tuesday afternoon to see the scarecrows. She said she's glad the display has since been removed. “That’s not something I should have to explain to my child, of why someone is hanging from a noose, or inmates are breaking out. It’s just scary.”
Botanical Gardens Executive Director Connor Vernon said it wasn't supposed to be offensive. It was all in fun and it was only entertainment. The display followed this year's scarecrow theme of television shows. The scene was depicting the popular TV show,” Law and Order.”
It’s been up for a week. We had not had a complaint about it at all. When we looked and looked at that particular area we said okay, and we’ll take this apart. Plus, we contacted the people that put it up and let them know what was happening. We didn’t get any more complaints.
Vernon said the scarecrow wasn't pre-approved before going up, but he did see the scarecrow before getting the first complaint on Monday Vernon said every year there are a two or three scarecrow displays that are deemed inappropriate or too intense for kids.
Dan Wiliams of American Style Landscaping was behind the scarecrow display. He said it was only meant to be Halloween fun and he never meant to offend anyone. Williams has since released a statement:
“There were no racial undertones intended in my scarecrow display. However, after talking with some people who were disturbed by the setup, I’m very sorry it was interpreted the wrong way. Therefore we have removed it and I apologize to anyone I unintentionally offended."