Statue of Liberty mannequin with bag over head leads to threats against Akron store owner

Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-07 17:17:57-05

A storefront mannequin, dressed as the Statue of Liberty with a bag over her head, has led to arson and vandalism threats against the owner of Highland Shoe Repair in Akron.

Bob Ferguson, who is known for his political commentaries, saved a voicemail that was left at his business on West Market Street over the weekend.

"Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump is our beloved president," the anonymous man said. "You are one weird mother (expletive). I mean, a sicko. Get the (expletive) out of your window."

According to a police report, Ferguson received other calls from a man who stated the store's front window might be broken and the store might be burned down.

A police officer, who was in the store on Feb. 4 taking a report on an unrelated matter, heard the threats over the phone.

"He needn't thank me for reinforcing his opinions. He's allowed to those. He just doesn't understand that I'm allowed to mine also."

In addition, letters with vulgar words were posted on the front door of the store.

In one of them, the unsigned author wrote, "Please boycott this store. The owner is anti-American. Coming soon- a large crowd of protestors will block entering this store."

Ferguson, who put up the mannequin last Tuesday, said the display is his opinion, symbolizing "embarrassment" over President Donald Trump's immigration policies and the travel ban being debated in the courts.

"I would imagine if the Statue of Liberty or Liberty herself was adamant, she would be ashamed right now of what's taking place in this country," he told News 5.

Ferguson, who has been in business for 24 years, typically changes the appearance of a mannequin each month. Many of them have holiday or current event themes, but he's not afraid to wade into politics. He believes varying the display is an effective way to advertise.

He said the bagged Statue of Liberty has created more backlash than any of his previous storefront presentations, but he will not apologize for it. He plans to keep it standing until March.

"I knew that it might get them to thinking and that's not a bad thing. Actually, there should be a little more thinking going on in the community and the nation as a rule.

Akron City Councilman Richard Swirsky is organizing a rally of support for Ferguson on Wednesday at 5 p.m. outside of the shop.