This week, Bud Johnson decided it would be a good idea to hang an empty chair from a tree in the front lawn of his Texas home to make a political statement against President Barack Obama. Johnson, who lives in Northern Austin, meant for the chair to symbolize an Obama lynching.
Katherine Haenschen, the reporter at the Burnt Orange Report that first published the story, reported that she tried to question Johnson but was met with hostility.
“I don’t really give a damn whether it disturbs you or not,” Johnson told the reporter. “You can take [your questions] and go straight to hell and take Obama with you. I don’t give a s---. If you don’t like it, don’t come down my street.”
The image of an empty chair has been associated with Obama since Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republican National Convention. During the event, Eastwood had a one-sided conversation with the chair next to his podium, where he pretended Obama was sitting. Bud Johnson is a registered Republican.
On Thursday morning the Burnt Orange Report published a picture of the chair, which was adorned with an American flag.
“This image should curdle the blood of all patriotic Americans regardless of partisan leanings,” Haenschen wrote. “Our flag is a symbol of our great country, and the ideals of diversity and opportunity make us a beacon of hope and democracy around the world. Generations of service members have fought and died to protect what the flag represents.
“Yet because one sad, old racist can't handle the fact that the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, is African-American, he ties that same flag to a public display calling for that President's violent, racially charged death.”
Texas trailed only Mississippi and Georgia in the number of lynchings that took place in the state in the years between the Civil War and World War II. In part because of the Ku Klux Klan’s strength in areas of Texas, 468 people were lynched by angry mobs, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Of the 468 victims, 339 were black and often lynched for rape, among other crimes real or perceived.