Noose display shocks drivers on Oklahoma highway

Posted at 8:31 AM, Aug 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-15 08:45:21-04

MOUNDS, Okla. -- A controversial display was turning heads along a highway in Oklahoma on Sunday.

"When I looked over there, I was like, 'are those nooses hanging there?'" said driver Terrance Reed, Sr.

Reed was one of many who pulled over in shock, saying the display on Green Country highway is a direct attack on his heritage.

"If you think of a noose in America, it don't represent anything about but what used to happened to African Americans," he said. "He got the right to do what he wants to do, he's got a right to feel what he wanna feel, but I got a right to be angry about it too, and I'm angry."

Other drivers throughout the day agreed. "It bothers me. It's humiliating," said driver Dennis Varner. "It's discrimination, and America shouldn't put up with it."

Tulsa-based KJRH spoke to the owner, Merle Martindale, over the phone. Martindale declined to go on camera, but he said he's been a victim of crime in the past. He said the sign is not meant to be racist, just merely a warning to any potential thief.

But drivers like Reed said that's not the message the sign is sending them. "If you put up a sign that says I advise you not to hang around here after dark, you're making a statement," said Reed.

But Okmulgee (Okla.) County Sheriff Eddy Rice says Martindale isn't breaking any law by having the display.

Drivers said they hope he'll take it down, especially for those who say it's offensive.

"They're better than this. They shouldn't have this stuff thrown at their face," said Varner.

"We're all human beings, and we all need to love each other. That's the way God intended it to be," said Reed.

Martindale's wife told KJRH her husband has now taken the signs down.