The Baymeadows Road Shell gas station in Jacksonville, Florida has come under fire for allegedly displaying a racist effigy of President Obama hanging from a noose. The only problem is that this image originated in North Carolina, and has nothing to do with the two Shell stations on Baymeadows Road, in Jacksonville, Florida.
Well-meaning anti-racists and activists called for a boycott of these stations, and of the Shell corporation in general, but the real culprit has gotten off.
Local Jacksonville, Florida News 4 reports that “The owners of two Baymeadows gas stations say they have no idea why an image depicting a President Barack Obama doll wearing a noose is linked to their Shell stores. They say they had nothing to do with the picture that has circulated and created a firestorm, and they hope all the controversy just goes away.”
Still, a year later, the image is circulating of this effigy hanging at a Shell gas station. What is the explanation? We did a little digging, in order to provide a definitive answer to where the confusion originated.
The Baymeadows Road Shell station near Interstate 95 was blamed for the effigy, but as it turns out, the picture was taken at a gas station in Jacksonville, North Carolina. While the picture was taken at a Shell station, the effigy was not hung there, it was part of a display organized on the back of a pickup truck.
How did it get to the Shell station? Put simply, the pickup truck was drive to fill up at the Jacksonville, Florida station, someone snapped a picture and it went viral. The only problem is that somewhere along the way, the wrong “Jacksonville” was named as being in Florida, rather than North Carolina. Moreover, the location at a Shell station was incidental, in reality, yet on the internet it was given some key relevance.
North Carolina’s KLTV 7 reported that “The mannequins are all dressed as different people, including President Barack Obama, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Parsons… The truck is owned by a man who calls himself “Patriot Phipps” on YouTube. He says the truck was made to bring attention to a murder case for William Henry Phipps, who was shot and killed while he was riding down the highway with his father.”
Phipps denies there was any racial element to the effigy, saying that he would have made one of George W. Bush had he still been in office.
“You say it’s racism. I say it’s not. Absolutely not,” he insisted in a YouTube video. “Had we been hanging people in effigy when George Bush was president, I would have hung him, no problem. It wouldn’t have been a problem at all.”
The display was driven to New York City, without President Obama, two years ago but Phipps explains that “people hardly remember, hundreds of thousands of pictures was taken then.”
A federal case into the murder investigation “went nowhere” which led him, he explains, to this extreme. “We have nothing else.”
“We did not want to do this, ” he said, pointing to the mannequin display. “Mister Barack Obama can get down, he can get his mannequin down any time he wants to, but it is a federal investigation we are after.”
Racist? Not racist? We leave that up to you to decide. But now you have the story behind the viral image and hoax. If you see this image circulating on the internet, inform them of the real story behind it.
(James Achisa; images via KLTV, Jacksonville 4, and YouTube)