Noose part of historical display near Missouri voting booths covered up after complaints

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A replica hangman’s noose on display near voting booths at a Missouri polling center has been covered up following complaints it was “clear intimidation” toward Black voters.

The noose is part of a historical display in place for years outside the election office in Stone County, and marks the last legal execution by hanging in the state, which occurred in the county in 1937, Stone County Clerk Cindy Elmore told the Kansas City Star. Roscoe Jackson, a White man, was hanged for the murder of Paul Bozarth.

However, the Missouri Democratic Party released a photo of the display near several voting booths in downtown Galena, about 20 miles northwest of Branson, and said the noose was “clear intimidation targeting Black voters.”

“This symbol’s purpose is to stoke the fires of racial prejudice and strike fear in the hearts of people of color,” Clem Smith, the acting chair of the Missouri Democratic Party, said in a statement. “It is a painful reminder of the murders and lynchings of Black Americans.”

Smith called the display of a noose so close to a voting booth “offensive, inappropriate and outrageous,” and said it should be taken down immediately.

Yinka Faleti, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, also called for the display's removal, saying the "symbol of bigotry and hate" has no place in the state or "in our democracy."

Elmore told the paper that the replica noose was covered up Friday morning.

Stone County’s presiding commissioner, Mark Maples, told the Springfield News-Leading on Saturday that the replica noose was added about five years ago and that it was not meant to be offensive, but understood why others were upset.

“It never once entered our minds as an intimidation issue,” Maples said. “We just don’t think that way.”

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Maples said the future of the exhibit will be decided sometime after Election Day.

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