BERKELEY -- A UC Berkeley fraternity was forced to take down a Halloween decoration that was to be used in its annual Haunted House after it received complaints the decoration looked too much like a lynching.

Residents at Theta Delta Chi placed a hanging zombie, which was stuffed with straw, from the house's third story window in preparation for its annual Haunted House this week, but soon the fraternity was receiving numerous complaints that the zombie's head, a dark gray color, looked too much like an African-American man.

Devin Shoop, 20, coordinated the event and said he was looking to help save the fraternity some money when he decided to use the zombie's head, which was used in the same event last year, as part of the prop.

"I have no idea what (the head) was used for last year, but it is very creepy, and I thought that having this zombie would be another way to advertise the event and get into the Halloween spirit," he said.

However, Shoop said some people felt the prop too closely portrayed a lynching.

"I understand that some people have been offended by this," he said. "I'd like to apologize for any sort of turmoil this has caused. It was not meant to be taken the way it was perceived. It was supposed to be a harmless prop decoration."

The zombie was taken down Monday, though the Haunted House remained open. The event ran from 8 to 11 p.m. Tuesday night and was scheduled to run at the same time Wednesday.


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All proceeds from the $5 Haunted House go toward Autism Speaks, a nonprofit advocacy group promoting autism awareness and research, and Green Stampede, a nonprofit tutoring program that encourages at-risk children in Oakland to excel in school by offering Oakland Athletics tickets as incentives.

Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.