Protesters demand a reckoning for lynching display in Las Vegas mall

The display showed two white man preparing to hang a Black man.

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A railroad display depicting a Black man about to be hanged by two white men that was on view at the Galleria at Sunset Mall in Las Vegas is still drawing criticism more than a week after it was taken down.

Community members and activists are calling for an apology and accountability following the “racist” display, which was shown from May 30 until July 5. It was taken down following a customer complaint, 8 News Now is reporting.

Las Vegas Railroad Society Racist Display
The Las Vegas Garden Railroad Society is under fire following this display that depicts what appears to be a black man about to be hanged by two white men. (Screengrab from National Action Network Secretary Jshauntae Marshall)

“There was a display, a train display, of a Black man standing on a galley with his hands tied behind his back in front of a noose,” said the Rev. Robert Bush, president of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), News 3 is reporting. “Cowering down is not an option, standing down is not an option, the only option is no racism.”

In a statement obtained by 8 News Now, NAN said “community members are outraged that a racist train display showing a Black man being prepared to be hung was tolerated and allowed at the mall for hundreds of children, families & community members to see.”

The Las Vegas Garden Railroad Society (LVGRS) set up the display, which included a compilation of several railroad scenes. A frontier depiction with two white men preparing to hang a Black man on a scaffold from a noose could be seen in one corner of the exhibit. The LVGRS president, who declined a diversity training offer from one of the groups protesting the display, told News 3 that the hanging tableau had been around for at least 20 years. 

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak was displeased about the display and expressed his displeasure on Twitter, according to 8 News Now. “Racism has no home here in Nevada,” he tweeted. “This is completely unacceptable and our community deserves answers.”

Brookfield Properties, which owns the Galleria, said in a statement that it will not work with LVGRS again. “We are disgusted by this display. We took immediate action demanding the company remove it,” they said, according to the 8 News Now report. “While they were cooperative, we will not be working with them again. We are [a] destination for the entire community and apologize to our our customers and tenants who were rightfully offended by this.

“Nondescript” is how the LVGRS president, Sue Jerrems, described the figurine to The Sacramento Bee. “We never looked at it as a Black man before,” Jerrems  said. “It was just part of a frontier scene. It had no racist implications. Once someone pointed out the implications of it, we took it down. We apologized.”

An apology is not enough for some. Bush has promised to protest all LVGRS exhibits until the group properly addresses the display. According to the organization’s website, there are four events scheduled from now to the end of the year.

“Until they come to the table, every train event that they have we will be there to shut it down,” he told 8 News Now.

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