There's a new controversy about old nooses near Swansea bar

There's a new controversy about old nooses near Swansea bar

SWANSEA, SC (WIS) - They seem to have been there a long time on Jim Rucker Road in rural Lexington County. Maybe a couple of decades or more.

But who put up two expertly tied nooses and why? And why hasn't the man who owns the property taken them down?

"Nobody's ever said a word," says owner Harvey Goodwin.

A retired homebuilder, Goodwin is known by many in the Swansea area community. He owns the bar called "The Barn" where the nooses and the huge tree they're attached to are located.

Goodwin says three such ropes were in that tree when he opened the club in the late 1990s. He's not sure how long they've been there. Even after one of the nooses rotted away and fell, Goodwin says he never got around to removing the other two.

But he says they're not up there as a statement about race and would get rid of them if people object.

"Yeah, I got no problem taking them down," Goodwin tells us as his pit bull Jed growls a few feet away. "That rebel flag (above the door of the bar) I'm not going to take down."

We ask: Does that still means something to you?

"Yeah, it does. My granddaddy fought in that war," Goodwin said.

"But you understand how some people might look at those ropes and might feel like that's bad," we say.

"Yeah, I got no problem taking them down. It's not against African Americans. I got a lot of them, my buddies," says Goodwin.

Swansea, a few miles away, is a small community where people know a lot of their neighbors.

Several, both black and white, know Goodwin. And they tell us they don't know him to be a racist. But some say the continued presence of the nooses is troubling. Thomas Leggett runs a tree service based in nearby Gaston.

We ran into him near a restaurant in Swansea's tiny business district. He is African-American.

"I think it's prehistoric and it's offensive to me to have something in a place, in front of your business in the public's eye. I thought that was something that's of the past. We should be beyond that now," says Leggett.

This is the second time this year that a noose has been part of a community controversy in the Swansea area. Back in February, some parents at Swansea High School complained about a classroom project on slavery involving a noose attached to a poster.

The poster featured a bloody handprint and was titled "The South Will Rise Again."

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