Death threats, charges of racism and the disapproval of his neighbors couldn’t get Bill Skuby to remove a photo altered to depict President Obama as a witch doctor from the window display of his high end mens clothing store in Spring Lake.
Skuby removed the photo, “for now” he says, that has generated strong reactions, both pro and con, from his window display yesterday. He said respect for the office of President of the United States and the bullying that his bi-racial granddaughter has experienced since the controversy has emerged moved him to remove the photo that has generated nationwide attention. He said he will decide whether to put the controversial photo back into the display on Monday.
Skuby has been using one of his windows for edgy advertising for years. His Halloween display mocked President Obama last year too. This year he added the witch doctor photo over the words Obama Care with the C in Care being a Soviet hammer and sickle and a black hat with F.Y.B.O. embroidered in white on the front and S.L.N.J. Tea Party embroidered on the back. The hats are for sale for $25 and Skuby says the proceeds are going to charity.
This year Skuby’s display is making an impact beyond the borders of the tony town on the Irish Rivera.
Spring Lake resident Barbara Parnell walked past the display on Monday and found it to be “overtly racist.” Parnell called the clothing manufacturers who supply Skuby’s store to complain. She told them that the press had been alerted. “I plead the 5th amendment,” Purnell said when asked directly if she alerted the press. Later during a phone interview she said that one of the people quoted in the Asbury Park Press’s initial article about the display, not her, alerted the media to the display that she said “does not represent the Spring Lake business community.”
While Skuby seemed to be enjoying and cashing in on the publicity on Tuesday and during radio interviews on Wednesday morning, when MMM visited his store on Wednesday afternoon the ugly phone calls and emails from all over the country as well as the negative reaction of his fellow business owners on Third Ave were taking a toll on him and his wife Gail.
“90% percent of the reaction has been positive and supportive, but the 10% has been over the top,” said Skuby, “I’ve gotten six death threats and someone threatened to destroy the store if the display is not removed. I’m resigning from the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District, putting my house on the market and moving my business out of town when my lease expires at the end of the year.”
During a phone interview on Thursday, Skuby said that about half of the negative responses he received were not about race, but about respect for the office of the presidency. “That’s what got me to take it down. I’m not sure I will keep it out of the window, but I see their point.”Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2012 Presidential Politics | Tags: Barbara Parnell, Bill Skuby, Obama Witch Doctor, Race, Racism, Skuby and Company, Spring Lake, Tea Party | 3 Comments »