Broadway Bar Noose Sparks Debate 

Rope was show of support for Boise State football

A hangman's noose that hung from the Broadway Bar through September is no longer twisting in the wind.

Boise State students, the NAACP and at least one lawmaker complained about the symbol, in spite of the insistence that it was the Broadway Bar's unique way of supporting the Bronco football team.

"It [the noose] created quite a bit of conversation," said Don Wilcox, bar operations manager. "It was just a rah-rah Boise State thing for us."

That's not how Boise State junior Tasha Lundquist saw it.

"I am all about supporting my team," said Lundquist, who is majoring in social work. "But hanging something like that could initiate a hate crime."

Lundquist said when she first called the bar after seeing the noose, an unnamed employee apologized and promised to take it down. Two weeks later, the noose was still hanging high. Agitated, Lundquist began contacting her friends and classmates.

"I started a phone campaign and sent out hundreds of emails," Lundquist said. "I talked to the owner, and I said it symbolized violence."

Boise State social work professor Raymond Mullenax told Lundquist that a boycott would be effective.

"Folks can certainly express themselves any way they want to, but if they're putting that kind of symbolism out there, we can choose not to spend our money there," said Mullenax. "If you are a person of color, especially an African-American, the noose is a symbol that could be offensive."

Until the mid-1930s, lynchings were not uncommon in the United States. Even in the 21st century, white supremacist groups use nooses at rallies and in propogandistic literature.

"I don't think [the bar's] intentions are racist," said Lundquist, even though she had little-to-no luck convincing the bar's management to lose the noose. "People called asking for the owner and he's just resorted to hanging up on them," she said.

Wilcox and some of the bar's patrons told BW that the noose did not have racist implications.

"They were making way too much hay out of it," says Wilcox.

Regular patron Dick Hall agreed.

"We didn't put up a white sheet or burn a cross," he said. "We didn't put up the oak tree to hang the noose from."

Wilcox and Hall, both Boise State alumni, asserted that the noose was meant as support for the Boise State football team. When the noose originally went up, a University of Georgia stuffed bulldog hung from it, but Wilcox said that after a public-relations employee from Boise State contacted him, he removed the bulldog. The empty noose stayed up.

"I don't understand where the violence and racism come from," said Wilcox. "I'm not a violent person. I'm not a racist. What am I missing? The funny thing about it is, there's a black beauty shop next door. A woman from there comes in here on her breaks. She never said anything."

BW spoke with Shari Ashley from the Cut-N-Up beauty salon, next door to the Broadway Bar.

"Yes, I go in there to have a smoke and have a glass of cranberry juice on my break," said Ashley. "But nobody asked me my opinion. If they had, I would have told them, 'Yes, I have a problem with a noose.' A number of our customers definitely had a problem with the noose."

Wilcox said after a visit from District 19 Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb regarding the matter, he had enough and took the noose down, saying he was "doing what was best for the bar."

Wilcox insisted that the noose was only related to football.

"We're supporting our team," he said. "They're accusing me of missing the point. They missed the point."

In the aftermath, Lundquist was grateful that the noose was gone."

"I'm really impressed because of the community and all the people who called," she said. "I think it's about raising consciousness. When you see injustice, you can change it."

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