HOUSTON – For many on Facebook, the picture was offensive, even blatantly racist: A scarecrow that appeared to have black hands and feet apparently hanging from a tree.
“This is repulsive,” one woman wrote. “Can’t stand racism.”
Many commenters called for the homeowner to be arrested, or the house to be shot at or burned down. The house address was included in the original Facebook post.
KPRC arrived just before the homeowner, Roderick, who immediately took down the scarecrow and tossed it in the garage.
Up close, you could tell the scarecrow was not hanging from a tree, but was staked into the grass. Plastic chain decorations were hanging from a nearby tree.
“It did look like he was hanging from a chain” in the picture, Roderick said, “which is not good, that’s nothing I would do.”
Roderick said he built the scarecrow 10 years ago out of yoga mats, pvc pipes and duct tape, old toys and an old car seat, all covered in old pants and an old work jacket and brown boots, and Roderick’s old black baseball gloves.
“People have been coming by and taking pictures with him for years,” Roderick said. “There’s never been an issue, I never even thought it was going to be an issue, no one’s even suggested this might be an issue.”
This year, Roderick also built a “Slender Man” with white gloves and a white mask. But both decorations will now be retired indefinitely.
“I’m dealing with murder threats, drive-by’s and house burning” threats, Roderick said. “I like trying to be scary ... but yeah, not anymore, no more Halloween celebrations.”
The man who posted the photo on Facebook took it down or made it private after it had been shared nearly 1,000 times. Some defended Roderick, including some of his neighbors.
“Doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” wrote one woman. “Trying to make something out of nothing."
The man who posted it on Facebook had been at that house before, Roderick said, spraying for bugs. He was supposed to do so again on Monday.
“Is that one of our customers?” wrote one person on Facebook. “Yep,” the Facebook poster responded.
“Did you still give service to this a**hole,” asked another. “Nope,” Facebook poster wrote.
KPRC spoke with the man who posted the Facebook message. He said he did not want to comment on the post.
“He just did whatever he thinks is right,” Roderick said of the Facebook poster. “Whoever’s got hate in your heart, God bless you. Get better. And learn to trust your neighbor. World's never going to get better without it.”