Posted on August 16, 2004

Farmer’s White Scarecrows Spark Complaints Over KKK Resemblance (Fl.), Aug. 4

EAST LYME, Conn. — The ghostly white scarecrows on Joseph Smith’s cornfield frightened more than the geese he was trying to scare away.

The scarecrows so closely resembled Ku Klux Klan garb that they sparked complaints from minority guards and visitors at a nearby prison.

Workers on Smith’s farm made the scarecrows last week out of the white, hooded environmental suits they wear to spray the crops. Soon after, administrators at the J.B. Gates Correctional Institution began receiving complaints.

Smith’s wife, Terri Smith, said the entire episode was a misunderstanding.

“We were just trying to scare away the geese,” she said. “We’re like the most non-racist people you’d ever meet.”

The Mexican seasonal workers on the farm have tried several tactics to keep the geese away from the corn. Because the prison is close by, the workers cannot fire guns or use other loud sounds like they do on another property they farm.

The first complaints came from visitors to the prison, said Gene Tewksbury, president of AFSCME Local 1565, the union that represents prison guards.

“If you were driving up there, what would you think?” Tewksbury said.

The scarecrows have been removed.