Associated Press: INDIANAPOLIS— An Indianapolis pastor said a sign in front of his church with images of a lynching and slaves in chains is meant to remind people of the importance of their voting rights.
One side of the sign outside Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church features a photo of the 1930 lynching of two black men before a crowd of white people in Marion, Ind. “VOTE!!!” is written about the image, and beneath it: “Is this a reason to vote?”
Rev. Joy Thorton, who is black, said he has heard few complaints since the sign went up about a week ago.
“I think there is a sense of complacency about the price that was paid for one of the most precious rights we have, and that is the right to vote,” Thornton told WRTV. “That sign serves as a historical reminder.”
The sign along busy 38th Street amid a typically lower-income neighborhood on the city’s east side has drawn varied reactions.
Joyce Hise, the president of nearby Discount Casket Sales, said the sign delivered an important message.
“It is disturbing, however, it’s a part of history,” said Hise, who is black. “It’s a part of history that we have to remember.”
Ronnie Judd, of the Indianapolis suburb of Greenwood, said he saw the sign while making a nearby delivery and took it as a message that the days of lynchings could return if blacks don’t vote for President Barack Obama.
“We have come too far to go back to those ways,” Judd, who is white, told The Indianapolis Star.
Indianapolis Urban League president Joe Slash told WISH-TV that the group agrees with the need to appeal for people to vote but not with the church’s sign and its images.
Mary Bishop, who owns Mary’s Seafood across the street from the church, said she worried the sign’s message was confusing.
“Other pictures could have been put up, other words could have been said rather than have people think, ‘I’m going get hung. I’m going to get lynched, if I don’t vote,’ ” Bishop said.
Thornton said he has no plans to remove the sign “until the Lord says so.”