On Wednesday night, the art collective INDECLINE, which infamously displayed nude statues of Donald Trump across the country in August 2016, hung eight effigies of clowns dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes from a tree in a Richmond, Virginia park. One clown had a sign around its neck reading, “If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler — INDECLINE.”
The leftist group has used hanging imagery before; it vandalized billboards in Las Vegas, captioning them “hope you’re happy Wall St.” and “dying for work” and hanging dangling a mannequin from a noose off the side in 2012.
INDECLINE released a video showing four masked men dressed in black hanging the clowns overnight in Bryan Park, and dialogue from a old episode of the Superman radio show that ridiculed the KKK, interspersed with a Klan anthem asserting: “Stand up and be counted/show that world that you’re a man … join the Ku Klux Klan.”
INDECLINE added in a news release that the display was a “protest of the White Nationalist uprising in the United States.” The release also claimed that Richmond was chosen because it was the Confederate capital and Bryan Park because Gabriel Prosser plotted a famous slave rebellion there in 1800.
James “J.J.” Minor, the president of the Richmond branch of the NAACP, decried the display, asserting, “When you look at something like that, whether you consider it art or not art, lynching is not something that we’re in agreement with at all. We do not support any groups that support violence.”
Bernice Travers, the president of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, the city’s oldest African-American voter advocacy organization, added that what INDECLINE “does not understand is the pain black people endured then, and still feel today, about hangings.”
Mayor Levar Stoney’s press secretary, Jim Nolan, concurred, echoing, “There are many ways to express a point of view. As a city we don’t condone breaking the law to do so.”
On Thursday morning, Richmond police cordoned off a large area around the tree and closed the park.