Holiday jeer: Slope resident skewers Trump with seasonal front-yard display • Brooklyn Paper

Holiday jeer: Slope resident skewers Trump with seasonal front-yard display

Yard rail: A Park Slope homeowner decorated the front lawn of her 12th Street home with a protest of President Trump.
Community News Group / Colin Mixson

Trump’s not welcome in this white house.

A Park Slope woman decorated the front yard of her white 12th Street home with ski-mask-wearing, sign-carrying mannequins in a protest of President Trump that some local liberals said brought them plenty of joy this season.

“It’s incredible, amazing,” said passerby Becky Mode, who stopped to take a picture of the bold display. “It just makes my day.”

Residents of the 12th Street block between Sixth and Seventh avenues put up decorations every Halloween as part of an annual tradition, but Laurie Arbeiter, who has owned her house 24 years, said she never participated in the pastime — until Trump took office.

“We first put it up as a Halloween display looking at the dangerous and unsettling times in which we live, with messages about racism, hate, greed, and walls that commented on how deadly those forces are,” she said.

The local worked with a friend to construct the dummies on display with wood and soccer balls, before dressing them in black shirts and menacing masks and equipping them with signs bearing progressive political slogans such as “Arrest Trump” and “All Power To The People of Puerto Rico.”

The placards are leftovers from Arbeiter’s own protest trips to the nation’s capital, and the Sloper began swapping old signs for new ones after deciding to keep the spectacle in place due to the growing number of people it drew.

“We received an overwhelming response of gratitude and such positive feedback that we decided to keep it up and to change the messages from time to time,” Arbeiter said.

But other locals said it was the figures holding the signs — not the posters themselves — that leave a lasting impression.

“Visually, it’s a bunch,” said Park Slope resident Mike Dunlap. “I’m in general agreement with the message, but I can see how it would be off-putting to some. The masked men look a little scary.”

Another neighbor said he also supports Arbeiter’s statement — politically speaking — but that his 4-year-old daughter would prefer it be made in a less intimidating fashion.

“My daughter’s not the biggest fan, it scares her,” said Andrew Guttormsson, who lives on the block. “But I guess that’s kind of the point — to freak everybody out.”

This reporter spotted several people pausing to take photos of Arbeiter’s freaky front lawn when he visited the property, and witnessed one man speaking broken English accost the homeowner outsider her residence, declaring “masks are for thieves!” before stalking off without giving further comment.

And yet another local argued that the display, regardless of its political or aesthetic merits, would be better placed in a conservative enclave as opposed to in ultra-liberal Park Slope, where some may see it as more of a vanity project than a call to action.

“You may as well do this somewhere where it really matters, like Georgia or Alabama, but this doesn’t really incite any conversation of meaning or merit that’s respectful,” said a Sloper who only gave her name as PJ because she didn’t want to offend staff and students at the school with an “activist-environment” where she teaches. “It seems like an ego boost.”

Arbeiter has no plans to remove the anti-Trump dummies any time soon, she said, because they have grown to inspire people — herself included — in the same way that living, breathing activists do.

“Many have grown fond of those figures because they are out there day and night, and hold up those messages whether the sun shines or the rain and snow falls,” she said. “They are emblematic of all those people the world over that rise up against injustice and harm done by oppressive forces. I feel heartened by their presence too.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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