A Los Angeles city firefighter who lives in Pasadena is under internal investigation for a Halloween display that some said reminded them of a lynching victim, the Pasadena Weekly has learned.
Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Brian Franco came under scrutiny the day after Halloween over a display that had been in front of his Mataro Street home in East Pasadena showing a man hanging by his neck from a tree limb. The dummy had a pillowcase covering its head, but appeared to have white hands and may not have been a depiction of an African-American victim, as some suspected.
For one witness, the skin color of the victim was irrelevant. “I saw the human replica as an African American, or a person of color,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified.
Franco could not be contacted for comment. Pasadena police spokesman Lt. Jason Clawson said officers responded to the home in response to a call complaining about the display.
“The police documented the incident and submitted the case to the city prosecutor who declined to file any charges,” Clawson said.
After Internet sleuths learned Franco’s identity, they began posting links to online complaint forms about the display.
Despite pleas from several neighbors who did not want trick-or-treaters seeing the display, Franco left it there until Nov. 1, according to one person who lives nearby.
The LAFD is currently investigating the matter.
Peter Sanders, the department’s public information director, said the complaints were forwarded to the agency’s Professional Standards Division, which initiated an investigation.
“That investigation is ongoing and the department has no further comment while the investigation is underway,” Sanders said. Between 1882 and 1968 more than 5,000 African Americans were whipped, hanged and beaten to death for breaking color laws which prohibited African Americans from such things as voting, looking white people in the eye, drinking from water fountains reserved for white people, and walking on the wrong side of the street. According to the NAACP, 1,297 white people were lynched during the same time period.