Posted on July 16, 2022

Model Railroad Scene at Area Mall Decried as Racist

Jessica Hill, Las Vegas Sun, July 12, 2022

Las Vegas activists are calling for racial justice awareness training after an art exhibit that depicted a Black man being hung by a noose was displayed earlier this month at Galleria at Sunset Mall in Henderson.

“This image is disturbing to our community,” Grace Vergara-Mactal, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1107, which represents health care and public workers in Nevada, said at a protest Monday {snip}

Las Vegas Garden Railway Society, a volunteer group that makes large-scale model railroads, had shown a long, 3-D display of different railroad scenes in the mall. One section of the display showed a frontier scene of two white men about to hang a Black man on a scaffold from a noose.

In the background was a train carrying modern construction equipment. The display was shown for four days before a concerned community member saw it and made a complaint.

Sue Jerrems, president of the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society, apologized for the display and said the society never meant to offend anyone. They didn’t see the figure as Black, but as “nondescript,” Jerrems said.

“We never looked at it as a Black man before,” Jerrems said. “It was just part of a frontier scene. It had no racist implications. {snip}”


Kamilah Bywaters, president of the Las Vegas Alliance of Black School Educators, said the incident was an example of a failed educational system and a lack of having Black history taught in schools.

“Black people have contributed to this country in more ways than we can even begin to count,” Bywaters said.

Paula McDonald, an adviser with the civil rights organization National Action Network, said Black slaves and railroad workers helped to build the railroad during the late 1800s, and a display could have educated people about that instead.