Noose, watermelons on anti-Obama display called racist

This anti-President Barack Obama statement was visible from Foothill Avenue near Tennant Avenue on Tuesday.

An apparent political and racist display aimed toward President Barack Obama at an east Morgan Hill residence hasn’t caused much of a stir within the immediate neighborhood which consists mostly of small farms and ranch houses, but has inspired widespread commentary on the Internet accusing the owner of racism and hatred.

The display on Foothill Avenue depicts an empty chair standing on a plywood platform nailed to the top of a white fence. On the chair are two watermelons, with a yellow rope tied at one end in the shape of a noose hanging down.

In front of the chair, facing it and nailed to a post is a clear piece of glass or plastic with a hand-written message saying, “Go back to Kenya you idiot.”

A printed political sign declaring support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential election is also affixed to the top of the fence, a few yards down from the chair display.

Behind the fence, which is on the east side of Foothill Avenue near the intersection of Tennant Avenue, is a small garden with fruits and vegetables growing, with a home, vehicles and farm equipment set back from the road. A closed iron gate blocked the driveway Tuesday.

Numerous attempts to contact the resident have gone unanswered.

Some locals have called the display racist and embarrassing. Morgan Hill resident Susan Shirley posted a photo of the exhibition to her Facebook page Sunday with the following comments:

“Sorry to bum you out on a Sunday, but blatant racism thrives in my beautiful town of Morgan Hill, Ca. Driving down a road between Morgan Hill and San Martin, we spotted some Romney signs, then a chair. Amusing. Then we noticed the watermelons on the chair. Disgusting. Finally we noticed the noose hanging over the side of the chair. Horrifying. Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Freedom for people to share this picture with everyone they know to point out the ominous side of the conservative party-PLEASE.”

A man who lives on the “other side of the Bay Area” wrote the Times describing his disgust for what he calls “a tumor growing in Morgan Hill.”

“To see such a vulgar display in California in 2012, instead of Selma, Alabama in 1954, is shocking and disturbing; that such a level of ignorance could be presented so casually,” Michael Gordon wrote.

A neighbor across the street from the display said she had not even noticed the decoration when asked her opinion about it Tuesday morning. Observing the props from her barn, where she was feeding her chickens, the neighbor said it was a “mystery” to her what the work means. She said an African-American man lives or used to live at the home where the display was erected.

When told what message presumably directed at President Barack Obama on the clear piece of plastic facing the chair said, the woman replied, “It’s amazing how ignorant people can be in this information age.”

The neighbor declined to provide her name.

Another neighbor on the east side of Foothill Avenue declined to comment on the political display.

Other neighbors were not home Tuesday morning.

A spokeswoman from the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, which supports Obama for president, said she was “stunned and shocked” at the display, especially the depiction of an apparent noose.

“Freedom of speech is a basic right but this takes it too far in that I find it threatening to our president,” said Democratic Party spokeswoman Swanee Edwards.

She added that the Democrats do not think the display represents the views of the Republican Party or Romney supporters in general, but it might be the work of a subscriber to the ultra-conservative Tea Party or Patriots groups, some of whose members have recently expressed fear and dislike of the Muslim Cordoba Center mosque project proposed to be built in San Martin.

“I think it’s a sick individual,” Edwards said.

Numerous other homes on the east side of Foothill Avenue displayed signs supporting Romney.