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Protesters demand action after ‘racist’ train display at Las Vegas mall

LAS VEGAS — A model train display has been removed from a Las Vegas mall after complaints that it was racist.

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Several groups of protesters voiced their complaints about the display, which had been at the Galleria at Sunset Mall from May 30 until it was taken down on July 5, KLAS reported.

The display, which was the work of the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society, featured two trains on tracks going around scenes, as visible in a YouTube video posted on July 2.

One specific part of the display has sparked controversy, with the National Action Network saying, “community members are outraged that a racist train display showing a Black man being prepared to be hung was tolerated and allowed at the mall for hundreds of children, families & community members to see,” KLAS reported.

A close-up of the controversial portion of the display was visible in a tweet from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who shared the image with the message, “Racism has no home here in Nevada. This is completely unacceptable and our community deserves answers.”

The president of the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society, Sue Jerrems, apologized for the display, saying they never meant to offend anybody.

“We never looked at it as a Black man before,” Jerrems told the Las Vegas Sun. “It was just part of a frontier scene. It had no racist implications. Once someone pointed out the implications of it, we took it down. We apologized.”

“I’m saddened that we are here again protesting things that we thought were over with — a lynching display,” Bishop Bill McDonnell with the Wealthy Place Church told KSNV.

The National Action Network in Las Vegas has called for a public apology, and has asked for the railway society to get cultural sensitivity training, KLAS reported.

Jerrems told KSNV that she felt the diversity training would not be necessary, and told the station that its members “didn’t mean any harm.”

Brookfield Properties, which owns the mall, apologized and said that while the mall had approved the train set display, it was unaware of the specifics of the display, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

“We’re truly sorry,” Lindsay Kahn, the director of public relations for Brookfield Properties, told the Las Vegas Sun. “We want to apologize to everyone who was offended by this, and everyone should be offended. … We are horrified and truly apologize.”

Jerrems told the Las Vegas Sun that the same train display had been put up at the mall several years ago, and there was no negative feedback at the time.

Kahn told KLAS that while the Las Vegas Garden Railway Society was cooperative in removing the display, the mall would not be working with them again in the future.

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