What was supposed to be a scary Halloween display, turned out to be really offensive to several people in Fort Collins.
Several KUSA viewers alerted us to a display outside a home on South Shields Street, near South Drive, across from Colorado State University's campus. The picture appears to show a mannequin that looks like an African American woman hanging from a noose, off of someone's porch.
Kaya Rudolph and Sunnique Cortez, who are both juniors at CSU, say the display was offensive, racist and the timing was poor. They say it was sending the wrong message to people visiting CSU and Fort Collins.
"It almost, I got like a horrible feeling in my stomach that someone would put a hanging black woman across the street from our campus," says Cortez. "I thought about what message that was sending to black families to come up here with their black child."
Rudolph was concerned about the timing of it all, because the display was up this past weekend during homecoming. She says the house is directly in front of a dorm and doesn't represent CSU, and it shouldn't represent anyone in Fort Collins either.
Kaya and Sunnique say they first saw the display in late September, and were unsure of what to do about it. Instead of approaching the homeowner themselves over safety concerns, they posted about the display and how offensive they felt it was on their Facebook pages, which then got shared several times.
"It was just like, it hurt to see it and it made us like upset and it was just something we didn't want to happen. We didn't want it to happen. We didn't want people to see that. We didn't want them to get caught off guard like we were," Rudolph said.
They then called Fort Collins Police, and so did several other people. At first, Fort Collins Police say officers told people that because the decorations weren't illegal, it wasn't a police matter. However, after taking several calls, officers went to the home and explained to the owner that the display was being perceived as racist.
Police say the homeowner was surprised it was being seen as offensive and ended up taking it down. Kaya and Sunnique ended up removing the post after the woman took down the display.
"I just think it's important to have a conversation about why it's offensive to African Americans or minorities around Fort Collins because, you know, we're not the majority here," Cortez said.