A residential Halloween display is under intense criticism for including two life-sized human dummies, each hanging by a noose.

Some community members say it goes too far and resembles a lynching scene. 

The man behind the display describes it as classic Halloween fun inspired by a medieval torture chamber. 

“This has no racial aspect whatsoever, absolutely not,” said creator Kelvin Meier.

But Maple Ridge city councillor Kiersten Duncan said that while she understands the creators may have meant no harm, she’s heard from residents who are interpreting it differently.

“Many people have said that they feel it's depicts a lynching and they feel it’s culturally and racially insensitive,” she said.

Debate over the decorations erupted on social media, including Facebook, ahead of Halloween. 

Duncan said she knows that some community members see it as harmless Halloween fun, but she empathizes with those for whom the display brings up painful feelings. It might also require families to have difficult conversations with kids who might not be old enough to understand what they’re seeing.

“Halloween should be safe for everyone regardless of race or ethnicity or religion, or sex or gender identity,” she said.

Historically, and particularly in the United States, lynchings have included the hanging death of Black people at the hands of a white mob.

Meier said it “disgusts” him that anyone would suggest his display is racist without speaking to him about his intentions first.

Duncan said she intends to meet with the creators to talk to them about how the decorations are being understood by community members, and said she feels the display isn’t age-appropriate.

“I think it's important for residents to really consider families when they're decorating because that's who you're decorating for on Halloween, it’s for families and young trick or treaters,” she said.

Duncan said she looks forward to hearing from and speaking with community members who are people of colour.

“I think their voice is very important on this issue, and it needs to be heard, and it needs to be valued,” she said.