City leaders in an Iowa town are up in arms over a homeowner’s yard display targeting Democrats.
Davenport Mayor Mike Matson asked the city’s police chief to investigate, but homeowner Donald Hesseltine dismissed the outrage sparked by the snow display which he created to “mess with” friends supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
“My personal reaction is that it’s terribly wrong and an embarrassment to our city,” Matson told the Quad-City Times. “All hate speech is wrong.”
But Hesseltine, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, insisted there is “no way” the display was created to incite violence.
“It’s just to make people cry I guess,” he said. “They’re crying, so I win.”
A man in Iowa built a scene of snowmen on his front lawn.
— Graham Ambrose (@Grahambrose) January 20, 2020
The display featured a mannequin-like figure in a snowbank, wearing a military helmet and sunglasses. The figure is holding an assault rifle, a chain saw, and what appeared to be a mock can of Busch Light beer. The mini firearm appears to be aimed at a snowman wearing a “Bernie 2020” T-shirt and on its back with its eyes x’ed-out. Red dye was apparently used to color the snow near its head.
American flags and deer-like animal heads on posts are also part of Hesseltine’s display. The words “Hesseltine 2020″ are written on a sign nearby with red sad faces drawn inside the zeroes.
The homeowner explained that some of his friends “love Bernie” and he meant the display as a joke to tease them.
“I put it up there to mess with them,” he told the Quad-City Times.
“If it does not violate a city ordinance, there is no action the city can take,” Davenport Alderwoman Marion Meginnis said, criticizing the display as “bad taste” and “unneighborly.”
“We are a country that allows people to have opinions,” Meginnis, who represents Hesseltine’s neighborhood, added.
David Millage, chairman of the Scott County Republican Party, agreed, saying that although the scene was “terrible” it is still protected as free speech.
“We find it to be in extremely poor taste, and there’s no affiliation between what it depicts and the Republican Party,” he said.
But former state representative and chair of the Scott County Democrats, Elesha Gayman, condemned Hesseltine’s expression as “a hate crime and hate speech.”
“It’s as bad as if someone burned a cross in someone’s yard,” Gayman said, calling for a police investigation.
“We have got to stop this. This is not the Wild West. We should be able to civilly disagree with one another, where you’re not displaying acts of murder on your front lawn,” Gayman added.
A liberal dem can display a depiction of the severed head of the President and a rap star can depict the killing of the President and that’s ok. That’s not hate. This Vet puts a snowman display in his yard and a lib calls it a hate crime. Really?https://t.co/G6iUrQQAJe
— Dale Andersen (@DaleAndersen6) January 21, 2020
Political nerves are on high alert in Iowa where the first votes in the Democratic nomination process take place in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
Many on social media appreciated Hesseltine’s sense of humor and weighed in with comments on Twitter.
I want this guy to decorate my front yard. ?
Iowa snow display targeting Democrats is widely condemned in cityhttps://t.co/O6SIboqQzu
— Steven the Patriot (@isis_sux) January 21, 2020
Here is something else the democrats snivel about folks. I have never seen such crying & sniveling as the do nothing democrats in our country! https://t.co/CxyhT7oQ7c
— Quibble (@quibbleframeup) January 21, 2020
Bet if the T-shirt and hat were pro-Trump the display would be lauded and a political statement and honored. IMHO. this is one of the reasons PC and Hate Speech infringe our 1A rights.https://t.co/Vb3cipKS5F
— Garrett Lindemann (@WyomingScience) January 21, 2020
— Wendy Davis (@wmdofthegop) January 21, 2020
A BernieBro ACTUALLY shoots up GOP Congressmen and it’s a non-issue that never has to be brought up or investigated thoroughly… some moron makes a tacky display = HATE CRIME!https://t.co/AqLZrkCdx2
— Jeebus Christos (@travelinjeebus) January 21, 2020
Good grief… Dems think snowmen are hate crimes now and equate them to burning crosses.https://t.co/DfpqZiy1JF
— Weary Veteran (@WearyVet) January 21, 2020
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