A Glocester homeowner said Tuesday that the political statement on his front lawn off Old Snake Hill Road isn't about race, it's about taxes.
A sign for Republican candidate for governor Allan Fung was hanging upside down in a noose, while signs for independent candidate Joe Trillo were posted on either side.
Homeowner Ray Izzo said he voted for Fung in the last election and was backing him until Fung refused to debate.
"He wanted to follow Gina's footsteps and that's pretty much going to, in my eyes, going to make the state just as bad as it is today," Izzo said by telephone, adding that he later removed the sign after he received threats and hateful messages.
Neighbors said they understand it's his constitutional right, but they said they find it slightly odd and disturbing.
Fung's campaign is calling it "plainly disgusting."
“Think about the message it’s sending to many of the kids in that neighborhood,” Fung said. “This hateful symbol which many of us hopefully had long forgotten is reappearing in this campaign and it has no place in our modern society and it’s just shameful.”
Izzo said that he would have also had Gov. Gina Raimondo's sign hanging with Fung's if he could have gotten his hands on one.
He said he voted for Fung in the last gubernatorial race four years ago and said he was backing Fung again this time around. He said this isn't about race at all, it's about Rhode Island taxes.
The Senate campaign of Bob Flanders also weighed in when it saw his signs displayed.
"The display is loaded with the baggage of a hateful history and extremely disrespectful," the Flanders campaign said.
Flanders' people said they asked Izzo to return their lawn signs.
People want their signs back,” he said. “I’m not racist. I’m not saying anything. It was a political statement that I was upset as the voter that he let me down. I’m bringing peoples’ signs back to them. That’s it."
During an interview with Trillo, Izzo showed up at Trillo's office to return his signs.
“You can keep my sign as far as I’m concerned,” Trillo told him. “I don’t condone any of this activity. I never would. I think there’s no place for it in a campaign.”
Izzo said he called state police, and the American Civil Liberties Union to make sure what he was doing was legal. He said he is completely within his rights as long as the display stays in his yard.