Lynched effigies shock many

(Photo courtesy Tara Rodriguez)
September 21, 2012 1:59:31 PM PDT
Heads were turning in parts of Wayne and Johnston County earlier this week when a man drove through town with the likeness of President Obama hanging from a wagon on the back of his truck. However, it's not just the president targeted in this protest.

"I'm just shocked. I'm shocked that here we are in 2012 and you have people riding around like that," said Rev. Abdue Knox, of Goldsboro. "It floors me. It really does."

The wagon belongs to a man named V.R. Phipps, who lives in Duplin County. ABC11 couldn't find Phipps in person, but we found him all over YouTube.

"You say it's racism. Well, I tell you it's not," said Phipps in a YouTube clip. "This fella right here in this picture, William Henry Phipps, is the reason that we are doing all this. He was shot and killed."  

In the videos, Phipps said he thinks there was a massive cover-up of William Phipps' murder. He complained that a federal investigation was shut down. He said that's why President Obama's effigy is hanging in the gallows. Phipps thinks the president could jumpstart that investigation.  

The others in nooses are all Democrats who Phipps believes were somehow involved.

"This is a testament to the power of the Democrat party," said Phipps. "They've stopped any investigation. The only investigation there was was a cover up."

If there's politics at play for Phipps, Bob Jackson, the chairman of the Wayne County Republican Party, wants nothing to do with it.

"This is the first I've heard or seen anything like that," said Jackson.

Knox took an even stronger view.

"To ride around with a black man hanging by a noose sends the wrong message," said Knox.  "You don't want to violate free speech, but there is a line when you start doing things like that because that's threatening. I think it crosses that line. I think it does."

Phipps has been driving the wagon around for more than three years. A few months ago, he even took it through Midtown Manhattan.  

The Secret Service said they know about the wagon, as do local police. So far, they haven't stopped it.

So far, the hanging gallows on wheels hasn't gotten Phipps what he's wanted all along which is a new investigation into another Phipps' death.

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