SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) – A display at the Shawnee Mall Saturday caused quite the stir as residents found it offensive. The display included multiple high-profile people in Nazi uniforms, and some had swastikas on their arms.
“I just didn’t understand it,” said John Brown. A resident who saw the display at the mall when he was there Saturday. “Free speech, First Amendment, whatever. But this was hate speech. This was racist.”
Brown said he and his daughter saw the display while they were shopping. However, instead of shopping they left.
“I called the mall, left a message,” he said. “We’re not going to be patronizing any businesses at the Shawnee Mall this year.”
The display was part of an autumn exhibition show by the Community Art Gallery in Shawnee. It shows multiple high-profile people in Nazi uniforms. Some of them had swastikas around their arms. Some included were President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg among other TV show hosts and news anchors.
“It’s divisive, it’s really anti holidays and I just could not understand why the Nazi symbol is being displayed in the Shawnee Mall,” Brown said.
“I don’t see any issue with it,” said Scott Baird. Part owner of the art gallery that put on the exhibit. “But, you know, art can be a touchy subject.”
KFOR spoke with Baird over the phone Tuesday.
“I believe in freedom of speech as well as freedom of art because art is the first thing that goes down when tyranny takes over,” Baird said.
According to Baird, the mall told them Sunday that they started to hear from people taking issue with the display. They told him to take it down and he said he did.
“We’re not taking any punitive action against the artist,” Baird said. “It’s like TV, you know, sometimes it’s ugly and you don’t have to look at it, but it’s there because it’s a viewpoint of him.”
KFOR went and checked, and the display is no longer up at the Shawnee Mall. Baird said the person who made the display did not want to comment at this time. We also reached out to the Shawnee Mall for comment and were sent to voicemail. As of the writing of this article, we are still waiting to hear back.