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.”