Decoration or racism?

Ken David said it's no secret he is a Mitt Romney supporter. But that doesn't mean the lawn chairs hanging in his frontyard are an attack on President Barack Obama, or anyone else for that matter.
Becky Vargo
Sep 27, 2012


Area residents are calling the display racist and an attack on the Democratic president. They say the hanging chair is symbolic of lynching Obama.

David said it’s “absolutely not” an attack — it’s a decoration.

“People decorate their trees all the time,” he said. “We’re no different than anyone else.”

David and his wife, Judy, live at 15896 Comstock St., across the street from Peach Plains Elementary School. He strung metal lawn chairs from trees on their property on Monday. One of them is next to the driveway. The other one hangs next to the road, not far from a sign that says, “Take Back Our Country in November.”

David said he saw a police car with an officer shining a spotlight at the chairs on Monday night.

On Wednesday morning, Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies stopped and talked to David about the chairs. A complaint had apparently been made by someone at the school, David said.

The homeowner said he has done nothing wrong.

“This is my property. I have the right to freedom of expression,” David said.

Some members of the Tri-Cities area think David has taken that expression too far.

“There are all sorts of incidences of this (chair hanging) happening across the country,” said Grand Haven Township resident Ed Ketterer, who has a child attending Peach Plains. “... I don’t buy it that the chair doesn’t have the racial connotation."

Just sitting on the ground, the chair would not be a problem, Ketterer said.

“It’s kind of funny — it’s mocking what (Clint) Eastwood did at the convention," Ketterer said, referring to a speech the actor made at the Republican National Convention in August, next to an empty chair representing President Obama. “When you hang it from a tree, you take it to a new level."

Ketterer said there is no way David would not know what the empty chair represents.

“To me, it’s not about rights, it’s about decency,” Ketterer said. “I wouldn’t condone it anywhere.”

In an e-mail to the Tribune, another area resident said she was also disturbed by the hanging chair.

“I’m all for freedom of speech," Donna Timmer wrote, "but when my granddaughter asked what it meant, it was hard to explain.”

Ketterer said he had the same problem with his third-grade son.

“We talked around the issue,” he said. “We said it was a political sign and that it was against President Obama.”



Mr. Conservative

double standards

Jan Hodge

Really! REALLY! R..E..A..L..L..Y..!! Enough will the phony cry of racism. This is nothing more than a parody of the Clint Eastwood speech given at the Republican Convention.
He wanted it to be seen by passers-by so he hung the chair in a tree. It is hilarious if you know why it's there. And if you don't know what it's about - it's just strange.

It's not against the law (or racist) to disagree with the President or his policies. To many of us, this President has done more harm than good and we have a right to express that. Intimidation is the tool of the empty minded: those unable to persuade with a solid argument.

By the way, why is the school involved with this at all. This is not on their property. The Principle should have stayed out of the situation altogether.


Haha, these people think that this is a sign of racism LOL LOL LOL!!!!

Like I said

Actions speak louder than words. Can you say racist?

Mr. Conservative

no, you can say "Im a braindead liberal"


What? I don't see how one can see racism in this. I REALLY don't see how anybody can see decoration in this.
Empty chairs hanging from a tree, and the owner calling it a decoration? The most I can construe from this is that the homeowner is an idiot.


This man is just silly. Thoughtful, intelligent people don't feel a need to put on such displays. It's a free country and he can choose to express his opinion anyway he wants. But all he has accomplished is demonstrate his own silliness.


Is this how thoughtful, intelligent people express themselves?


If this man chose to put a cutout of Eastwood next to a chair in his yard, that would be an pointed political opinion, practicing his freedom of speech. But hanging a chair from trees, intimating lynching a black president, is nothing less than a racist, hateful image from an ignorant, fear mongering, old man. If Obama were white, the chair would be on the ground.

Mr. Conservative

define: "racist"


The suspended chairs could be explained away to those young innocence as a form of art, which itself is free expression. Assuredly, we'll see many trees in front yards this Hallowe'en w/ridiculous bats, spiders, webbing, OH,MY! It sickens me that parents will let their little ones become indoctrinated with the idea that Hallowe'en is a good thing. As of late I've even heard the day referred to as a holiday. Now that's truly scary!

Principal Onyx ...

As a Principal myself I find any funds directed to the art department (presumably for reefer) to be gross mismanagement of hard-earned tax dollars. I must say, however, that this man is presenting a unique viewing opportunity for students and art lovers of all ages. Again, I cannot say I am a connoisseur though this display touches firmly my own avant-garde sensibilities.

Some may find the idea of hanging inexpensive lawn chairs (representing Barack Obama's place to sit were he to arrive at the man's home for an interview) to be offensive. Surely, Clint Eastwood should be given partial credit for the work. The chairs part, to be specific. Naturally, I see your concern, but this is nothing to get too upset about.

The artist may need to be interviewed again, however, seeing as how there is more than one chair and the idea of a person sitting in them at that height off of the ground with only one supporting rope is quite comical! For whom, may we ask, is the other chair? How are they expected to climb into them? Does he have any plans to add wind chimes for bonus flare? Great art raises such questions!

On a personal note, I'd like to see what other great works this man might accomplish, as well as what he may inspire others to create. Perhaps the district can commission some of the local art students to create portraits of this man. Something in the "tasteful nudes" department.

Funda Mentally

There is no question that this is racism. Ken David, and everyone supporting his political statement, are intellegent enough to connect a violent time in our countries history when black men were killed in a horrific manner, and left hanging from trees, to the very recent past event of Clint Eastwood talking metaphorically to President Obama via an empty chair. I look at this, Ken David and his supporters, and see people who are lead by fear, violence, and hate. I think the conversation starts at looking at these wounded souls who feel the best way to express themselves is to communicate through hatred.

The Stevens Family

I would line up a bunch of chairs on the ground in front of the trees and hang more in them. Representing MANY empty seats in the Government Sector! ;) How on earth people got the idea of "lynching the president" out of empty chairs hanging in the trees, is beyond me. Because he used one rope??? REALLY??? Would it have been better if he used two, one on each end? Only those who are biased, would sink that low in accusations! If he was white, they would not have even gone there. They made it a race issue. I am neither a republican or democrat and when I drove past there, I knew exactly what he was stating... I saw both conventions and remember the Eastwood's own expression on stage. Everyone needs to stop turning EVERYTHING into a race issue all the time. It is not always a race issue, sometimes expressions can be as simple as an empty chair in a tree. CHILL OUT PEOPLE! And you have to admit, there are many "empty seats" who refuse to listen to people, in the White House! By the way, you may want to avoid people's homes who may be toilet papered this Halloween... white toilet paper, on stran at a time, hanging from a tree??? MUST BE A REPRESENTATION ON LYNCHING BY A KLU KLUX KLAN MEMBER! You can make a race issue out of anything you see now days! Sheesh!


I dream a world where man, no other man will scorn, where love will bless the earth and peace its path adorn. I dream a world where all will know sweet freedom's way, where greed no longer saps the soul, nor avarice blights our day. A world I dream where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the earth and every man is free. Where wretchedness will hang its head and joy, like a pearl, attends the needs of all mankind. Of such I dream- Our world!

-Langston Hughes


And there you have it. ANY opposition to President Obama is rooted in fear, violence and hatred. Really? And those on the progressive side of the aisle are so thoughtful in the words they choose to express disagreement with those they oppose.


You know it's funny to read all the comments-he's an idiot-he's racist-he has obligations because he lives across from a school... Fact of the matter is there are chairs hanging in a guys tree, all be it strange-I have to imagine there are much more pressing issues that deserve way more attention then this. Get over it and move on-Mountains out of molehills people.


There most certainly are more pressing issues, yet you chose to read "all the comments" attached to this article and then took the time to comment on the insignificance of the issue that you just invested your time and energy on. Why would you do that? In your own words, lovethistown: "Get over it and move on - Mountains out of molehills." Just sayin'...


This isn't just silly, it is an attempt by oh so sensitive liberals to control what you can do on your own property and to stifle freedom of speech/expression. It's o.k. to burn the American Flag on a public street, under the rule of "expressive speech" but it's not o.k. to hang lawn chairs on your own property? When did the concept of private property and private ownership end? As far as limiting freedom of speech, democrats and the liberal media (I repeat myself) have now told us that the following words are racist (dog whistles) when applied to our boy President: "golf" "Chicago" " "Medicare," "food stamps," "debt," "jobs," "foreign policy" and "quantitative easing. " In other words, we can't speak ill of President Obama or his policies, much less cast a vote against him without being racist. When will the fact that I plant my butt on an empty chair be criticized as being RAAACIST because I am being disrespectful to the President who liberals imagine is sitting in the chair when my butt hits it? Grow up, and let your children inherit a country where there is still freedom of speech and private property!


Denial and racism are serious problems that make rational discussion and debate nearly impossible. This local situation really has nothing to do with liberals, the media, burning of the flag or empty lawn chairs sitting around in the yard. A local white man who apparently is a Romney supporter has hung an empty chair (representing Clint Eastwood's version of our black president) from a tree, just like the 3,500 black Americans hung from trees in the Jim Crow south. I will go out on a limb (no pun intended) and bet that if our Democrat president was white, Ken David would never even entertain the thought of hanging the chair from the tree, but would simply set an empty chair in his yard. Vladtheimp - you're taking this argument to a whole new level by implying Ken's freedom of speech and use of private property are being limited or taken away. I was not aware that he is being forced to cut down his chairs from his trees, or throw away the evil chairs, or take down his sign. Those of us who can see something quaking and walking like a duck and are able to identify it as a duck, hope Ken, not wanting to be associated with those white men years ago who hung all those 3,500 black men, women, and children from trees, would just put the empty chairs by his sign. He would be expressing his freedom of speech loud and clear - and we would be proud of his right to do so.


One might not consider it a duck if there were not other reports of chairs hanging from trees in various cities across the US (as reported in USA Today). The Secret Service is investigating those incidents. I am hopeful Mr. David takes the chairs out of the tree and puts them by the signs, especially given outcry in the neighborhood. Make us all proud, Mr. David, won't you?


"boy President"??? is that what WE have, a boy President? I'm misunderstood. I thought male, once attaining the age of 18, becomes man. Perhaps you have a use of boy that means something else that you'd be willing to elucidate for me and the other readers...


???what>? how about this...get back to work Boy!! that racist?


I was asking the writer their intent. I showed where my confusion is coming from. Your comparing apples to oranges. If you feel you can speak for the author then I'll ask you to stick to the subject and get back to my question.


maybe you should take a ebonics class ...might help your clarity


Interesting point, I love languages I can speak a couple of them fluently. Perhaps you can direct me to where I can take this class so I can better understand you. I wonder if the author appreciates you saying that they have written their statement in ebonics? Seems like your attempt to, i don't know, make fun of me is also making fun of the author, the one you're trying to defend.


The only person I am defending is Ken David. You replied to a comment using "boy President"...nothing about that in the guys comment. It doesn't make sense.


Ok, thank you for being clear. I was commenting on VLADTHEIMP's posting. When a person makes a post, if someone writes a comment(response) under that and indented, it becomes a THREAD. My only response to the article was a poem by Langston Hughes. I offered it as something for people to reflect on. Perhaps even to change some folks perspectives.


the poem changed my perspective! Have you ever read the poem "im tired' by bill cosby?


Actually, it wasn't Bill Cosby but it is still worth a good read!



Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.