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AM: Scarecrow Controversy at Botanical Gardens


In Dothan, there

The Dothan Area Botanical Gardens' Annual Scarecrow Competition is causing some controversy. One of the exhibits is accused of having racial undertones.

In Dothan, there's a controversy at the area Botanical Gardens' annual scarecrow competition.

One of the exhibits is accused of having racial undertones.

Scarecrows line the paths of the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens.

But what started out as friendly competition has turned into controversy.

One display by American Style Landscaping is no longer in the gardens.

Connor Vernon, the director of the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens says, "we came out and looked and took away what could possibly be an offensive display portion of it away. and then that was about the extent of it and late int eh afternoon we hadn't had any problems but we decided we would go ahead and take the display down early this morning."

The original display had a man hanging from a tree.

The gardens removed the man Monday night and the entire display on Tuesday at the urging of concerned residents.

Former Fire Chief Samuel Crawford commented that "since the Botanical Gardens is a recipient of some tax payer funds for their operations, I felt the administrators of city funds should be aware of the potential image problems this would present, not only for the people who live here but for the people who are potentially look at this community as a place to establish a home or business."

Some say the "law and disorder" scene is straight from the history books.

Crawford adds, "the negative stigma racism surrounding this particular display I felt was more than we could ignore. African American experience in this country associated with lynchings has been a very brutal. I would even associate with a mass murdering of many innocent people as well as those who didn’t receive adequate representation in the justice system."

Vernon continues, "obviously we are going to try and be as sensitive as we can to as many people as we can and again because it is primarily designed to have fun out here at the Botanical Gardens, we have someone who expresses a concern if they are serious about it then we take it seriously and that's what we did here."

American style landscaping says the display wasn't meant to have an underlying racial tone.

Owner Dan Williams released a statement saying "I apologize to anyone who i may have unintentionally offended."

Gardens director Connor Vernon says in the past they've removed scarecrow displays for being too "scary" for children.

The Dothan area botanical gardens is in commissioner Kevin Dorsey’s district.

He says he's glad the issue was addressed and Williams apologized.


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