A Houston-area Shell gas station is at the center of controversy after a picture of a hanging Obama effigy went viral on local social media.

The gas station has denied claims that the picture was taken at the location.

According to KHOU 11 News, viewers emailed the same picture to the television station, saying that the picture was taken at a Shell gas station in Sugar Land.

Celestine Perez of Pasadena, Texas, told KHOU that he had received the same picture of the hanging effigy in an email from a cousin who believed the picture was from a gas station in Hockley, Texas.

He said he was appalled by the image and added, “Obviously it still shows that racism is still alive and well.”

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However, KHOU confirmed that the viral picture originated from North Carolina, and not from the Houston area.

The effigy was constructed and displayed in protest by a man named V.R. Phipps, in what he calls “Mobile Gallows,” because his is seeking federal investigation following the alleged murder of his brother.

In his YouTube video, Phipps claimed the hanging effigy was not a display of racism, but rather a protest in order to seek justice for his slain brother.

Among those hanging in V.R. Phipps “Mobile Gallows” are North Carolina governor Beverly Perdue and Superior Court judge W. Douglas Parsons.

Speaking about the doctored photo, Perez added, “Hoax or not, whatever statement the person was trying to make, it’s just unacceptable.”

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