BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The postal service and a Long Island homeowner are in a standoff over a Halloween decoration.
Richard Beatty has been decorating his Brentwood house for years with homemade Halloween decor, including makeshift gallows and a noose with a skeleton hanging from it. On several occasions, the noose has just been swinging empty.
But this year, after the decorations went up, he heard a knock at the door.
“The postmaster himself came here and knocked on my door and said he was suspending my mail until I took this stuff down, and I said, do what you have to do because I’m not taking it down,” Beatty told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Beatty’s idea of trick-or-treat fun was offensive to his African-American mailman.
“I think it’s ridiculous … It’s not meant to be racist. It’s not meant to offend anybody. It’s here to be scary, spooky. It’s a graveyard. It’s spooky. It’s Halloween. That’s what it’s all about,” Beatty said.
But that’s not what the noose is all about to many. The noose has been long considered an offensive symbol of hate, recalling a painful chapter of history.
“It isn’t just a Halloween decoration. He needs to take it down because he’s disrespecting the other African-American neighbors,” one neighbor said.
“Maybe it’s just for decoration, but at the same time, you know, in the age that we live in, you never know,” another neighbor said.
“If it’s not in danger in any way, I mean, slip and fall on ice or if there was a dog here or something like that, nothing,” neighbor Stephen Ondrusek said.
“It is, from what I understand, a violation of your civil rights, and it goes back to the mail must go through. There’s only two reasons basically that they can stop the mail and that’s if it’s unsafe conditions for carrier or if his life is threatened by a dog or icy conditions, not a Halloween decoration,” he said.
Now, after one day of no mail delivery, Beatty has a fill-in mail carrier.
Beatty has filed a complaint with the inspector general.
“I don’t think the post office of all people should be the ones telling me what I can and can’t do on my own property,” he said.
A postal service spokesperson says the carrier will “monitor conditions on a day-to-day basis.” They have the prerogative to deny home delivery “based on personal or physical safety.” They point out it, at times, is a free swinging noose, but Beatty says it’s only left empty on windy days.
Beatty says he doesn’t see anything wrong with the noose.
“It’s a prop. It’s just a prop, like all these other things,” he said.
Beatty says his mailman is overly sensitive and he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.