Halloween display in St. Helens pulled after controversy


Some voiced concerns the display was a symbol of lynching

ST. HELENS, Ore. (KOIN) — A Halloween display of trash bags shaped into bodies hung from a tree outside a St. Helens home has been taken down Monday evening after debate swelled over if they were appropriate decorations for the holiday or if they resembled symbols of lynching.

Earlier in the day, KOIN 6 News’ Lisa Balick spoke with people who were both offended by the display, and with residents who defended the props as a decor idea from Pinterest.

“What struck me is how macabre it is, and how clearly offensive it is,” said one St. Helens woman. “And how it could be seen as a depiction of a lynching in a county that has an overt history of racism and white supremacy.”

“It’s something we got off Pinterest,” said Diane, a resident who asked not to be fully named, and who helped put up the display. “We all got together as a neighborhood and put ’em up.”

The Halloween decorations outside a St. Helens home that some have deemed offensive. October 28, 2019 (KOIN)

St. Helens, a place many know as “Halloweentown” from the 1998 Disney movie, is decked out in spooky decorations this time of year. But one home drew criticism when hanging trash bags shaped like bodies appeared swinging from the tree branches. The same house hung a similar display last year, except it was one trash bag then instead of three. And, like last year, St. Helens’ Mayor Rick Scholl left a note asking the residents to take them down. However, Scholl told KOIN 6 News that his staff could only make the request, but cannot take any action since the display was on private property.

A passerby who saw the trash bags before they were taken down said she understood why there were strong feelings against it.

“Being that it’s Halloween, I get their point,” said Brenda. “But in today’s world it may be pushing it too far with the sensitivity.”

Initially, Diane said the display would be taken down after the holiday was over. However, by 7 p.m. Monday night, the trash bags and rope had been pulled from the tree.

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