CAMAS, Wash. – A chair hanging from a tree as a political statement against President Barack Obama is stirring controversy near Camas.
George and Kathy Maxwell say the chair represents Obama, much like the empty chair Clint Eastwood spoke to at the Republican National Convention. But they say the reason it is hanging from their tree is because someone stole the first one they had on the ground.
“We figured we’d hang it up so everyone can see it; there is no offense intended -- well other than hoping people vote against Obama of course,” said Kathy Maxwell.
After Eastwood’s RNC chair conversation, conservatives took pictures of empty chairs and posted them online. A few of those chairs were pictured hanging by rope from trees, causing outrage at what was dubbed “chair lynchings” in Texas and Virginia.
Now the same sight in Camas has some people very concerned about a connection to racism, and violence that came with it in the past.
“It’s really painful for people who have a knowledge or connection to that history: some people have family connections to it and some people have seen the pictures,” said Sirius Bonner, a special advisor on diversity at Clark College.
The Maxwell’s say they never intended to portray a lynching, but now that they know it appears that way to others, they still have no intention of removing the chair hanging from their tree.
"That’s really unfortunate but that’s really a bunch of hooey, that’s really my belief," said Maxwell.
Bonner is disappointed by the Maxwell’s decision to leave the chair hanging, but hopes it sparks a serious discussion.
“When you’re made aware of how people respond to it, when you’re made aware of some of the history, what do you do at that point? I think it’s unfortunate that they’ve decided to leave it up, and what I think it does is create an opportunity to have further dialogue and conversation,” said Bonner.