Although most people in the U.S. would likely agree that dressing up as a Ku Klux Klansman for Halloween is totally offensive and inappropriate, there's still that fringe element of Americans who want to push the envelope.
Cary Kent Sharp is apparently on that edge of society. On Saturday, police were called on the Lahoma, Oklahoma, resident after he and several other men were seen dressed in KKK robes and standing around a cross. Sharp is married to the mayor of the predominantly white town.
Theresa Sharp told Enid News & Eagle the incident involving her husband was a Halloween "prank gone bad." But she was still quick to distance herself from his display.
“I was out trick-or-treating with my son, and I in no way support the activities that occurred,” she said.
Cary Kent Sharp is not the only one who thinks it’s cool to rock a racially insensitive costume for Halloween. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Americans think it's OK to wear offensive Halloween costumes, including blackface. They weren't specifically polled on whether a KKK outfit would fit that bill.
While it may have been just a "prank" for some, the history of the Ku Klux Klan as a domestic terror organization makes this incident far more than just a practical joke. A report released by Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative in February found that almost 3,960 African-Americans were lynched from 1877 to 1950. These lynchings were common during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, when victims were frequently burned, castrated, shot, stabbed and, in some cases, beheaded.
Recruitment flyers for the KKK have been found in various neighborhoods across the nation -- mainly small communities like Lahoma -- as recently as February, making it harder to take this as a joke, even if it were truly intended that way.
Misty Meister, a local resident, said she witnessed the incident and didn’t think it was funny.
"We are a small community, and in no way do I feel this represents our views as a whole," Meister told the News & Eagle. "It is upsetting due to the fact that we live in a community with families of different ethnic backgrounds, and this is a symbol of hate and intolerance."
No arrests will be made, according to Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles, because there was no violation of the law.
"Social media comments suggested that arrests should have been made," Niles said in a statement. "We must have a violation of the law to make arrests, as the fire was legal, the consumption of alcohol was on private property, and no one had stated anyone made threats of violence acts to the deputy at that time."
At least it appears that Sharp has learned a lesson.
"I never realized that it would be this harmful," he told KOCO-TV. "I truly apologize to everyone for this."