A Kelowna home is being investigated by the RCMP after a Halloween display, which included a prop figure hanging from a tree and a banner depicting a flying confederate flag, garnered significant public attention on Wednesday.
“We have opened an investigation in relation to the circumstances of the effigy and the flag at that location,” Insp. Adam MacIntosh is quoted as saying in a statement. He added that they are taking the incident “extremely seriously” and are working together with bylaw officers to find an appropriate course of action.
“These symbols only serve to fuel hatred and division and such behaviour cannot be tolerated in our community and society.”
The Confederate flag has become commonly recognized as a white supremacy symbol, associated with slavery and the Civil War in the United States in the mid-1800s.
The prop figure hung by a noose on a tree on public property in front of the home was taken down Wednesday afternoon. When a Black Press Media reporter visited the scene the previously-hanging effigy remained on the home’s porch, made of what appear to be black gloves and a black bag.
The RCMP statement says that they are working to speak with the resident of the home about the display and will also be requesting that the flag be removed.
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran was quoted in the RCMP statement expressing gratitude to the RCMP for following up on “this terrible public display.”
“There’s no place in Kelowna for this kind of racist imagery, which is hurtful to people of colour and all who cherish an inclusive community,” Basran said.
Bruce Ganton has lived next door to the home for around 40 years. He said the man often puts up big Halloween decorations, especially over the last few years, and that he has “taken a lot of pride in doing a really good display.”
Ganton said he doesn’t believe there was negative intent behind the decorations.
“As you can see from the display, he’s gone through great lengths to make it look really Halloween-y, and I don’t think there’s that kind of sinister thought behind anything he does.”
He said his neighbour is a “pretty straightforward type of guy,” and that, though he doesn’t know him socially very well, he’s “pretty sure that there’s nothing there.”
The home’s front gate was locked when Black Press Media was on-site, preventing media from knocking on the front door to request an interview with the home owner.