Update: Republican Adds American Flag to “Lynched Chair” Display

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Update 9:26 a.m. Friday: The homeowner has cut down the lynched chair, placed it on the lawn, and — wait for it — claimed it wasn't racist. Click here for more, including a video confrontation with the homeowner.

Last night we broke the story of a man in Northwest Austin who lynched an empty chair from a tree in his front lawn, seemingly intended to represent the first African-American president.

We've since received an updated photo from a neighbor that should clarify whether the homeowner meant the display to make a political statement. The image is here.

The homeowner has attached an American flag to the chair. If anyone wasn't clear before that he meant the President, hopefully this decorative addition will make it clear: the homeowner is suggesting that Barack Obama be lynched.

This image should curdle the blood of all patriotic Americans regardless of partisan leanings. Our flag is a symbol of our great country, and the ideals of diversity and opportunity that make us a beacon of hope and democracy around the world. Generations of service members have fought and died to protect what that flag represents.

Yet because one sad, old racist can't handle the fact that the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, is African-American, he ties that same flag to a public display calling for that President's violent, racially charged death.

Unfortunately, our Austin neighbor is not the first person to come up with the “clever” idea of lynching a chair. A man in Virginia lynched a chair with a “Nobama” sign on it over the weekend, as reported by our friends at Blue Virginia.

Meanwhile, this story is garnering national attention across the blogosphere, and will unfortunately only confirm the worst stereotypes of Texans as intolerant racists. We're not all crazy bigots, and that's why we've got to push back strongly against displays of racism both overt and subtle. Texans, do you really want this kind of imagery to represent our great state? We're the home of LBJ, signer of the Civil Rights Act, and we have a proud history of African-American and Hispanic civil rights efforts.

Demographically, this dude's time is limited. He's 73. Across Texas, the majority of our public school students are Hispanic and African-American. According to the Census Bureau, most children younger than age 1 are minorities.

The Republican Party continues to visibly brand itself as the last respite for public racism, and thankfully it won't win them many elections much longer.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that “We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” That isn't stopping the angry demographic from raging against the dying of their white majority.

Incidents like this remind us that we've still got a long way to go, and that far from “solving” racism, the election of our country's first African-American president only revealed the festering, backwards beliefs clung to by those who fear the increasingly diverse future of our nation.

As of the time of this post's publication, the chair was still hanging in effigy in Northwest Austin. Neighbors report that the homeowner had a “guard” on his lawn yesterday protecting his installation. If the homeowner wanted to draw attention to his backwards views about the President, he appears to have succeeded beyond his wildest imagination.

Update 9:26 a.m. Friday: the homeowner has cut down the lynched chair, placed it on the lawn, and — wait for it — claimed it wasn't racist. Click here for more, including a video confrontation with the homeowner.


Previously on BOR: Republican Lynches Empty Chair in Racist Presidential Effigy in Northwest Austin


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


  1. Meh
    I don't know which is actually worse the guy tying the chair to his tree or someone writing a column about it?

    I have to wonder if the “73 year old” man? is perhaps a bit senile?

    But what is the author's excuse?

    I'm not sure if the chair can be construed to be Obama. First we have to go back to Clint's scintillating dramatic monologue performance: now let's ask ourselves was the chair meant to represent Obama? or was Obama supposed to be sitting in that chair AS Eastwood addressed him?

    You see what I'm saying? Conceptually speaking I don't think Obama WAS the chair – I think Obama was meant to be represented by the EMPTINESS of the chair. Get it?

    Now let's Fast Forward to the crotchety senile old dude in NW Austin. What I see is a chair tied to a tree limb with a Flag attached. Undoubtedly this is DESECRATION of our Sacred Flag. A crime that would be punsihable by DEATH if the GOP had its way. Reductio ad Absurdum and THIS old white dude is on a level with a Hippie Flag Burner and would probably benefit by having some Tea Party ogre stand on his head until he calmed down. Wearing sneakers of course so as not to really harm the Old Dude.

    • Senility?
      That's a really terrible attempt to excuse racism. Let's see if the younger neighbors in this older man's community call code enforcement and demand it be taken down.  

        • Yes. It. Is.

          Several code violations with this chair (and the attached American flag) hanging from a beautiful tree in the front yard:

          Austin, TX: Common Code Violations

          • Illegal Dumping:  You may not dump garbage or unwanted items. There are several landfills in the Austin area where you may dispose of items that you no longer want for a fee. Code enforcement pursues two goals with illegal dumping – ensuring the dump site is cleaned up and catching the perpetrator. If caught, offenders may be required to clean up the dump site and pay a fine. However, cleaning up the dump site is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner.
          • Junk and Accumulated Rubbish: Austin residents may not accumulate garbage, rubbish, brush, filth, carrion or any other unsightly, objectionable or unwholesome matter on their property. In addition, you may not store any material on a vacant lot.

          Austin, TX Code Enforcement should be called: 311. The Fine can be up to $2,000 for this “…unsightly, objectionable or unwholesome matter” on this man's property in a suburban Austin neighborhood.

  2. Lynched Chair Consistent with 2011 Legislature Redistricting

    A lynched chair in Austin is consistent with the three redistricting maps the 2011 Texas Legislature attempted to pass into law. Fortunately the courts have stopped them and the case is now going to the Supreme Court. These three maps will someday be used in Government Text Books in Texas to help illustrate gerrymandering.  They are each a perfect example.  Just look at these three one page reports, one on each map: http://dallasredistricting2011…  

    If you are in a government class addressing redistricting and gerrymandering, take these to your professor.  If he or she does not say they are perfect gerrymandering examples, please let me know.  If you are such a professor, I would love to verify this with you.

    Thank you 2011 Texas Legislature for giving new life to the Voting Rights Act for another generation!

    • Conceptually Speaking
      Conceptually you are either on a higher level of intelligence than the rest of us or your reasoning makes no sense whatsoever as currently expressed.

      It's often a FINE LINE between genius and Idiot Savant.

    • Somebody needs to go back to American history class
      Comparing the hanging of a chair in one's front yard to the lynching of a black man is loose enough logic as it is, but conflating a lynching with voter disenfranchisement is just bloviation.

      DON'T STOOP TO THIS TEABAGGER'S LEVEL. He's baiting you, and you're taking the bait… right up to the bobbing cork.

  3. In a chat room, someone overseas asked me what
    would have prompted this chair, and another in Virginia on the same day (or one day earlier) to suddenly appear.   “What happened on the 17th?”

    My answer:  On Monday, Romney lost the election for the GOP [with the release of the fundraising dinner tape]

    These chairs, and the earlier increases in gun and ammo sales/ammunition sales means the conservatives get it.  They've lost.  All they have left is fear and loathing.

  4. Republican?
    I missed the part in Johnson's interview where he states he's a Republican. Is that just an assumption made by the writer? I also made that assumption, but it's presented here as fact which degrades the credibility of this blogger completely.

    By the way, I fully support bigots flying their racist flags (literally in this case). Mr. Johnson being so openly racist allows his neighbors and friends to treat him with the disdain, hatred and disgust he deserves. I prefer overt racism to closet racism.  

    • Re: Republican?
      And I missed the part where the article's author identifies the man as a Republican. It's implied, but not clearly stated.

      Keep in mind that in Texas there's not really such a thing as being a member of the Republican or Democratic parties, like in other states. Voters are free to vote in whichever primaries they choose, and can switch back and forth from year to year. Whether you voted in the GOP or Democratic primaries is indeed a matter of public record, so it's not inconceivable that this article's author had access to such information; it's not hard to get.

    • Good Point
      Yours is the fist post which makes sense.

      When racists are overt then they can be TARGETED.

      I like to know who the racists are so I can treat them accordingly too.

  5. These pearl-clutching vapors
    … aren't going to get any Democrats elected in Travis County.

    Go back to work on something that matters, not these contrived outrages.

    For Chrissakes, people have hung presidents in effigy from George Washington to George W Bush. Because the 44th POTUS is half-black does NOT make this display racist.

    I myself have even posted in disgust about nooses hung in peoples' work cubicles. But I'm betting you don't quite understand the difference, Katherine.

    This crap — and yes, it is crap — and the anti-Mohammed video that has outraged Muslims throughout the world, are one of the prices we pay for an unfettered, unimpeachable First Amendment in this great nation.

    YOU have the right to criticize this bigoted idiot's display. You also have the intelligence to realize when you're wasting your time, I believe.

    You have missed a few of the trains heading that way, but there's another one coming in 2 minutes. Maybe less.

    • You know, Katherine…
      I remember a day not long ago when K-T Musselman would chastise posters on this site for down-rating comments just because they didn't like them.

      Grow up.

  6. Lost here
    I'm a little lost here. Why does thinking Obama is an idiot, a treasonous one at that constitute “racism”? Maybe I've got a little too much “old west” in me, but lynchings don't have to have anything to do with race. Most lynchings through history were of criminals regardless of skin color.  

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