Utah man says his ‘purge and purify’ Halloween sign isn’t racist or political

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Based on "The Purge"horror movie trilogy, Kade Rogers, who rents this home on 4800 south near 3100 west in Roy, Utah, starts to decorate the outside of the home for Halloween Friday October 13, 2017. In the theme of "The Purge: Election Year" the third movie in the trilogy, Rogers plans to add more decorations to the home including a giant scary Statue of Liberty from the movie.

Roy • Kade Rogers says he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

But he did. And now the 22-year-old former Marine says he’s dealing with the backlash — threats to his safety in Facebook comments, people yelling and throwing drinks at him from passing cars, some unsettled neighbors.

So will he take down the bloody-looking Halloween decoration draped across his garage door?

No, Rogers said Friday afternoon, sitting on his front step between his wife, Danielle, and his friend, Matthew Cale.

But he is trying to explain.

“This is not racist,” Rogers said. “This is not racial in any way, shape or form. I am not a racist … It’s not a political statement, nothing.”

“We just wanted to decorate our house for Halloween,” added Danielle Rogers.

Rogers said he put up the decoration Wednesday. It’s a sheet covering his garage door that at first said, in red lettering: “Make America Great Again. Purge and Purify.” It’s flanked by two American flags and a few bloody-looking handprints.

Neighbors were surprised when the message went up. Jared Taylor said Friday his wife spotted it and posted it on Facebook earlier this week. They figured maybe it was a prank played on the homeowner, or a “Trump-movement thing,” referencing President Donald Trump’s election slogan. Either way, Taylor said he found it offensive and somewhat “menacing,” and so did his wife.

Many Roy residents on Facebook said they felt the same. Several pictures of the sign were posted on the Citizens of Roy City page.

“I was just wondering if there is anything can be done about this?” wrote Kelsey Nielsen, noting the sign is near an elementary school. “This is so offensive to me,” wrote another commenter.

Others pushed back, saying it must only be a Halloween decoration.

Rogers said that’s true. He said he wants people to know the sign is based on some of his favorite horror movies: the “Purge” series.

The dystopian movies are about one night a year where crime is legal, including murder. The third movie, released last year, is called “The Purge: Election Year,” and its slogan is “Keep America Great.”

”It’s essentially a free for all,” said Cale of the horror flicks.

“It’s everybody for themselves,” added Rogers.

Cale and Rogers are members of the group United Patriots, Prepping and Training, which describes itself on Facebook as “supporters and defenders of the constitution, our country and our families.” Cale had arrived at Rogers’ house Friday afternoon to back up his friend, he said. The night before, the duo posted a video on Facebook, standing in front of the garage decoration.

“This is a man taking fire for a mere Halloween decoration,” Cale says in the video, as Rogers stands in the background, a handgun strapped to his leg. “I fully support Kade, I support anybody’s freedom of speech to put whatever you want on your house in the spirit of Halloween. Make it as gory as you like, make it as politically correct as you like, I really don’t care.”

“He’s going to keep doing what he’s doing,” Cale said Friday of his friend.

Rogers did tweak the sign slightly Friday. It now reads “Keep America Great,” instead of “Make America Great Again,” which he said better aligns with the movie slogan.

And he and Danielle, along with a few friends, were painting more bloody-looking “Purge” decorations for their windows, and elsewhere on the house Friday afternoon. They said it should add some context to the garage sign.

“It’s just as if I hang a witch on my door, or have a big old pumpkin in my front yard,” Rogers said.

“I want to celebrate Halloween.”