Neighbours accuse Halloween display creator of racism

Some residents of Maple Ridge, British Colombia  say one family’s front lawn Halloween display is insensitive, inappropriate and racist, and it’s time for it to come down.

Calvin Meier and his family have put up the display for seven years, adding to it each time. It includes a person being guillotined, two people being hanged and a person getting sawed in half.

“It’s Halloween, this is medieval. That’s basically all there is to our display,” Meier said on Saturday.

But some of Meier’s neighbours say the display — which features electronics that make the human figurines appear to be writhing in pain — evokes the idea of lynching, or suicide.

Susan Einarsson, whose grandchildren live nearby, think it’s too gruesome, especially for little children.

“Halloween doesn’t just take our societal duty to protect children from horrific violence and erase it for one day or three weeks,” Einarsson said. “This is not Halloween, what little children are supposed to be seeing.”

Einarsson says she spoke with Meier two years ago about her thoughts on the display. She says it’s especially upsetting to her because a relative of hers died by suicide.

Einarsson says she reached out to city council to step in, but they refused to intervene.

Meier says he welcomes anyone who wants to talk about the display so he can explain that it’s medieval and doesn’t have anything to with suicide or racism.

“To even consider this a racial aspect is completely ridiculous,” he said.

Most people in the neighbourhood like the display, Meier says, and hundreds of people come by every year to see it.

Helen Homer is one of them.

“I think it’s great that they go to all this work every single year to put it up, it’s so good,” Homer said..

“I have my granddaughter staying with me for four days, and she loves to come and look at all the lights and all the things.”

Despite the growing controversy, Meier says he intends to put the display up again next year.