Effigy of Palin Hanging by Noose Is Distasteful, but Not a Hate Crime, Feds Say
Los Angeles sheriffs say they don't believe a mannequin Sarah Palin look-alike rises to the level of a hate crime because it was part of a Halloween display -- but furious residents disagree.
By Catherine Donaldson-Evans
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
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A mannequin dressed as Sarah Palin hangs from a noose as part of a Halloween display in West Hollywood, Calif. (MyFOXla.com)
Despite cries from some community residents for a hate-crime probe, the FBI and local police say they will not investigate an effigy of Sarah Palin hanging from a noose in West Hollywood, Calif., because it's part of a Halloween display.
"It's clearly distasteful, but it doesn't appear to be a violation of federal civil rights statutes," Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman with the FBI in Los Angeles, told FOXNews.com in an e-mail. "Currently, we do not have an investigation open."
The U.S. Secret Service didn't immediately return a call for comment about whether it is looking into the matter. Los Angeles sheriffs said they are not treating the exhibit as an act of discrimination.
"I'm not defending this; I'm not criticizing it. It doesn't rise to the level of hate crime," Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told The Los Angeles Times. "Now, if there was a crime against bad taste ..."
Whitmore said he visited the house where the effigy is displayed on Tuesday morning to get a look at it -- a mannequin wearing "Palin-style" glasses, a brown beehive wig and a red coat, dangling by a thick white rope coiled around its neck.
Sheriffs have gotten between five and 10 angry phone calls from residents who say they're offended by the Halloween lawn exhibit, Sgt. Kristin Aloma of the L.A. Sheriff's Department's West Hollywood unit told the Times.
Authorities are keeping an eye on the neighborhood and the house, she added.
The mayor of West Hollywood, meanwhile, wants the mannequin taken down.
"While these residents have the legal right to display Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin in effigy, I strongly oppose political speech that references violence -- real or perceived," Mayor Jeffrey Prang said in a prepared statement.
"I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion."
In addition to including more typical Halloween paraphernalia like skeletons and spider webs, the display also has a John McCain figure in a chimney with fake flames around him, according to the Times.
Chad Michael Morrisette, who lives in the house, said the exhibit has become something of a tourist attraction, with visitors stopping frequently to take photos.
Morrisette acknowledged that if the display were of Barack Obama, instead of Palin, there might have been more of an uproar.
"The image of a hanged black man is a lot more intense than the image of a hanged white woman, for our country and the history of our country," Morisette told KCBS-TV.