City officials, detectives get involved.
Chesla Flood couldn't believe her eyes. A hangman's noose circled the neck of a black-hooded, jeans-clad dummy suspended from the chimney of a house in Madison.
Flood called her mother, Millie Hazlewood, who reported the Halloween display to police. She wasn't the only one. Police went to the property at least three times starting Sunday, and even the mayor asked the homeowners to take down the figure.
At 8 last night, the family relented, saying they feared for their safety.
"It's no more like freedom of speech anymore," Cheryl Maines said. "My son had to take this down because these people have blown this thing out of proportion."
Before the figure was removed yesterday, Madison Mayor Ellwood "Woody" Kerkeslager said "the appearance and the suggestion (of racism) is there, and it's inappropriate."
At least four recent noose displays -- one each in Jena, La., and Philadelphia and two in New York City -- are drawing renewed attention to a potent symbol of racism, lynchings and the era of Jim Crow segregation.
Unlike those incidents, the Madison figure was part of a Halloween display, and for two days, homeowners Cheryl and David Maines, the borough's superintendent of public works, refused to budge. They said they had done nothing wrong.