Lawn jockey dispute heats up in Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Last week a black-faced lawn jockey caused controversy among neighbors in Newport News. Now the dispute seems to have gotten worse.

Some residents along Madison Lane say the statue is offensive, even racist. So 10 On Your Side confronted the owner, who agreed to take it down. Later he put it back outside, and then it was stolen. What the owner did next made neighbors even more upset.

“I think he is thumbing his nose, and it is very offensive looking to me,” said Ray Way, who was driving by the house with a paint marker replica of the statue drawn on the front window. “I think it is kind of racist. I mean, we need to get over this type of thing, and that is not getting over it. It is kind of aggravating.”

WAVY.com went to the man who drew the replica of the lawn jockey and asked him why he did it.

“Because it pissed me off, because now it’s personal,” Dwayne Wicker said. “Look, if I can’t leave my man out here 24/7 without it getting stolen, then why not leave him up there on the window? What are you going to do — bust out my window next?”

The lawn jockey was stolen Sunday, but was found by a dumpster diver on Monday and ended up back in Wicker’s arms. He thinks the neighbor who appeared in WAVY.com’s report, and who did not want to be identified in fear of retaliation, stole it.

But that neighbor spoke with us over the phone Thursday, and he claims to have an alibi: “I talked to you on Friday. I then went on vacation … I left the area … I went out of town Saturday, and I’m still in Richmond right now.”

Wicker also blames 10 On Your Side: “It’s because of you, and because of the publicity … I blame you … your publicity did it.”

Ray Way thinks maybe it’s Wicker himself to blame: “I don’t know what to think about that. Is he trying to make a point? I mean what is he doing?”

When Wicker found out Ray Way doesn’t live in the neighborhood, Wicker said, “Is he visiting? Find a new route. You can go a different way.”

WAVY.com asked Wicker if he thought he could calm the situation by washing the replica from his window.

“That is going to come down … but they stuck it to me by coming into my yard,” he said. “They shouldn’t have been in my yard.”

At our urging, Wicker said the paint marker lawn jockey replica will come down, and late Thursday afternoon he did what he said he would — he took down the artwork.

Newport News Police continue to investigate the stolen lawn jockey. Police say Wicker is not in violation of any city code to have the statue on his front lawn.

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