So there's this guy in Canton, Ohio, who was arrested on Tuesday for burning a cross in front of his house. Shane M. Helson apparently got carried away while setting up his colossal annual Halloween yard and porch display. In an attempt to make a wooden cross / "scarecrow pole" look "tarnished" (I thought only metal tarnishes, but what do I know?), Helson and now-former housemate Scott Wright set it on fire -- for some reason on the front lawn, near the curb. Right out in the open, where neighbors could observe the blaze.
It's no surprise that the cross-burning didn't bode well with Helson's neighbors. His next-door neighbors are a mixed-race married couple -- he's black and she's white. The couple have had previous problems with the guys next door, according to an article posted on the local newspaper's website, CantonRep.com.
Another neighbor, Kristi Ogden, said she believes the incident was racially motivated because "they (Wright and Helson) have said racial things before," Ogden told The Canton Repository. "They do set the Halloween displays up, and that's fine," Ogden continued. "But burning the cross is crossing the line. I was offended by it; I was highly offended by it. It's sick; it's just sick."
In his defense, Helson told The Repository: "We were going to set up for Halloween like we did last year, like we do every year. (Wright) wanted to char the wood so it looked old. We were going to do a whole cemetery in the whole front yard. I didn't think of it as a cross."
Helson pleaded guilty on Thursday to the charge of having a disorderly house, according to court records viewed by CantonRep.com staff. In addition to paying a $100 fine and doing 75 hours of community service, the judge barred Helson from burning any crosses on his Halloween display, court records stated.
For a closer look at the story, check out "Cross Burning or Halloween Display?" on YouTube.