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Hanged witch in Massachusetts sparks allegation of 'hate crime'

In the state made famous for persecuting witches in the late 17th century, a modern day sorceress in Massachusetts is burning mad about a neighbor’s Halloween decoration depicting a witch hanging from a noose, calling it a hate crime against her religion.

Witch hanging from noose as part of Halloween decoration in Chicopee, Mass. (courtesy WSHM-TV)

“I want to see him take it down,” said Kelly Lynch of Chicopee, Mass. “Look at what’s going on in Louisiana. That would be the same thing. If a black family had … crosses outside of their house or nooses hanging from their trees, it’s basically the same thing.”

The witch is hanging from wooden gallows in front of a home on East Street, but Lynch finds the decor offensive.

She told WSHM-TV she’s been studying witchcraft since she was a child, and says it’s her way of life.

“We’re not casting spells against people, we’re just worshipping the moon, the goddess, the Earth,” she said. “Just like the Christians, Muslims, people have their own religion.”

Kelly Lynch, a witch from Chicopee, Mass., calls the witch hanging from a noose a ‘hate crime’ (courtesy WSHM-TV)

When Lynch saw the lifelike witch hanging in effigy in a neighbor’s front yard, she went to his door to confront him.

“He told me that people should lighten up, and that it’s a Halloween decoration. You know, to hang a witch from a real gallows and to have that as your only Halloween decoration, is kind of odd.”

But the homeowner reportedly is not caving in. His neighbor, Kevin Belder, says he has every intention of keeping it up.

“He shouldn’t take it down ’cause one person got offended or a lot of people got offended,” Belder said. “I think it’s funny.”

If the owner doesn’t remove the witch from its noose by Halloween, Lynch says she plans to protest outside his home, adding it’s not only a hate crime against her religion, but offensive to the entire community.

“Why depict a violent death in your front yard for little kids to see?”

Between February 1692 and May 1693, more than 150 people in the British colony of Massachusetts were arrested and imprisoned for alleged engagement in witchcraft. Courts convicted 29 people of the capital felony of witchcraft, with 14 women and five men executed by hanging.

The King James Version of the Bible recounts an Old Testament direction to put witches to death, stating, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

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