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Tuesday, February 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley mobile home neighbors upset by dog toy depicting black man being lynched

Brian Allen said that a dog toy that he hung up depicting a black man being lynched was not racist. Community members disagreed. (Will Campbell/The Spokesman-Review)
Brian Allen said that a dog toy that he hung up depicting a black man being lynched was not racist. Community members disagreed. (Will Campbell/The Spokesman-Review)

When Jane Graham drew back the curtains from her mobile home living room window on Friday morning, she was shocked to see a dog toy depicting a black man hanging from a string around its neck on her neighbor’s shed about 10 feet away.

She and her adult daughter , who is African American, said they politely asked their neighbor, Brian Allen, to take the doll down because it was offensive. He refused.

“I feel very angry and hurt, said Tasha Graham, 47. “I think he’s doing it intentionally. I’d hate for anyone else to have to go through this.”

Allen, who lives at the River Rose Village mobile home park on North Barker Road, says the doll is just a dog toy that is meant to be chewed up by his dog – which is even more offensive to the Grahams.

Jane Graham suspects the dispute may have been caused on Thursday, when Allen burned pine cones on his gas grill, causing smoke to drift into the Grahams’ house. She reported him to the property managers for it.

After seeing the doll on Friday and getting a refusal from Allen, Jane Graham called Crime Check, drawing a response from police on Friday afternoon. But police told her that Allen wasn’t committing any crimes and left after talking to him.

“They did nothing,” Jane Graham said.

When asked why he kept the doll up when his neighbors were upset, Allen said he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

“That’s her problem, not mine,” Allen said. “There’s nothing racial about it.”

Allen also said he had no plans to take down the doll. He said he bought multiple dolls, some of which he bought from SCRAPS and some he bought from Petco, he said.

Lindsey Soffes, regional director of SCRAPS, said the toy was “highly disturbing” and that the organization would not sell it.

“We don’t recognize the toy,” she said.

A customer service representative at Petco said the store carried no dog toys matching that description.

The toy’s foot shows a tag reading Plush Puppies, and online dog-toy stores show similar items for sale.

The manager of the River Rose Village mobile home park, Ida Coon, said when she heard about the doll Friday, she called Allen and asked him to take it down.

Allen agreed and took it down, but an hour later he put it back up, Jane Graham said.

Coon said that “I honestly don’t think he was doing it to intimidate anybody,” and that Allen “wasn’t the sharpest tool in the tool shed.”

Coon said she feels bad for Jane and Tasha Graham, but she’s not sure what else she could do to help.

Jane Graham, who bought the mobile home in October, said she’s considering selling it and moving after the issue with the doll that nobody seems to be able to do anything about.

“His refusal to acknowledge it or to do anything to address it makes it inherently racist,” said Kurtis Robinson who leads the local chapter of the NAACP. “In the name of the historical context of what that symbolism means and common decency … find another toy or take it down completely.”

“This is never a pleasant thing for a person of color to deal with,” he said.

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