WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A McDonald’s franchise in Massachusetts has apologized after a controversial Halloween decoration drew backlash and caused “unintended offense” earlier this month.
- A customer noticed one of the Halloween stickers showed an image of a man hanging from a tree by a noose, which he immediately found offensive.
- The imagery sparked debate among social media users: some associated it with lynching while some dismissed it as a common horror-themed display.
A McDonald’s franchise in Massachusetts has apologized after one of its Halloween decorations drew backlash and caused “unintended offense” earlier this month.
College student Erik Pocock noticed the design last week when he and his friends visited the chain’s North Andover, Mass., location. Pocock noticed the Halloween stickers when he got to the register.
One of the stickers showed an image of a man hanging from a tree by a noose, which he immediately found offensive.
Pocock told TODAY on Monday, “My friends and I were completely shocked that a large establishment like McDonald’s would put decorations like these up for all to see. It’s disgusting, insensitive and I can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea.”
He captured a video showing the stickers and posted it to his private Twitter page. He tagged McDonald’s primary account, asking, “Can you explain this?”
As the video became viral, several social media users debated on whether it was indeed offensive.
.@McDonalds is apologizing after these Halloween decorations were put up in their North Andover restaurant. Customers we spoke with tonight are split about whether the image is offensive #WCVB pic.twitter.com/wnRfhmV8zP
— Matt Reed (@MattReedNews) October 24, 2019
One user said it was “definitely not appropriate,” and said the image was “undoubtedly a display of lynching.”
Others, meanwhile, dismissed the image as just a horror-themed display like many other Halloween decorations.
A user tweeted, “Uhhh, Halloween is associated with death in any number of horrible ways – it’s the season of gory horror movies after all.”
Some suggested that the image, could refer to the Salem Witch Trials — which took place in Massachusetts. It is also a common source of Halloween imagery.
Others were even more upset that Pocock flagged the image as “insensitive.”
One user ranted, “You sensitive whiners are associating it with lynching. Halloween has always been about spooky, eerie things. We hang scarecrows from trees or porches because it’s spooky. That’s exactly what that drawing shows!”
The North Andover franchise’s owner and operator, Chuck Lietz, has since apologized for the imagery and had the stickers removed.
Their public statement read: “We deeply regret that these decorations were on display, and as soon as we identified the inappropriate content, we immediately removed the decorations display. Creating an environment that is welcoming and inclusive to all our guests and employees is critically important to us, and we apologize for any unintended offense they may have had on our community.”