A California couple has stirred up a nationwide controversy and visits from local secret service sleuths after hanging a mannequin of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin by a noose from their front porch.
Chad Michael Morrisette and his partner, Mito Aviles, hung the effigy of Palin, the Governor of Alaska, at their West Hollywood, Califrnia, home three weeks ago as a part of a Halloween display.
The mannequin is dressed in a brown wig, glasses and a red business suit. The display also features a likeness of Palin's running mate, John McCain, surrounded by fake flames as well as decorations such as skeletons and spider webs.
Officials from the Secret Service, West Hollywood code enforcement and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigated the display after receiving complaints from around the nation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The officials determined that the effigy is not in violation of any city, state or federal laws and is protected by the first Amendment that protects freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, AP reported that West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang has urged Morrisette to remove the mannequins, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich called for a probe into whether the effigy constitutes a hate crime because it targeted the candidates based on their political affiliation.
"Had this stupid act been done to Senator (Barack) Obama, there would appropriately have been a national outcry," he said in a statement.
Prang said Morrisette had the right to create the display, but "I strongly oppose political speech that references violence -- real or perceived. I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion."