Indianapolis church's slavery, lynching sign draws ire

INDIANAPOLIS - Depictions of slavery and lynching on a sign outside a church on Indianapolis' northeast side are drawing support and criticism.

The sign in front of the Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church urges drivers in the 5500 block of West 38th Street to register to vote.

But it also features pictures of two men being lynched and a drawing of slaves in shackles.

The Rev. Joy Thorton said the display is meant to emphasize the importance of the power to vote, especially within the black community.

"I think there is a sense of complacency about the price that was paid for one of the most precious rights we have, and that is the right to vote," she said. "That sign serves as a historical reminder."

Joyce Hise, the president of nearby Discount Casket Sales, said she connected with the message, which spurred her to register people to vote at her business.

"It is disturbing, however, it is a part of history that we have to remember," she said.

But others said they believe the message is confusing and out of touch.

"Other pictures could have been put up, other words could have been said rather than have people think, 'I'm going get hung. I'm going to get lynched, if I don't vote,'" said Mary Bishop, who owns Mary's Seafood right across the street.

Eddie Warren, a contractor who is repairing a fence across from the sign, said he believes it should be removed.

"Take it down. This is 2012," he said. "You don't supposed to do the racial thing. I don't know what it means."

Thorton said that while the church has received some complaints about the sign, which cost $300 to print, most of the feedback has been positive.

The church intends to keep the sign up through the election.

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