When Morton Police Chief Roger Morningstar built an 8-foot-tall, gold painted three-dimensional structure on his front lawn to show his support for President Donald Trump, he expected there would be some folks who did not see eye-to-eye with it.

He did not, however, expect to be labeled a white supremacist by some people over social media, but that is precisely what happened. 

Sitting in Morningstar’s front lawn is a monument to Trump that bears the name “Trump Tower.” And it likely would be taller than 8 feet if the spire that formerly sat on top of the structure hadn’t been taken down. But that was before people began likening it to a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Because of the Trump tower, Morningstar says he has received a wave of criticism online from people saying he supports white supremacy. Morningstar told The Chronicle on Monday that any idea suggesting he supports white supremacy is “ridiculous.”

“I saw online people saying that my page regularly supports white power, which is absolutely false,” Morningstar said. “I am half Mexican and half Jewish, my grandfather came here from Mexico and became a citizen and the Morningstar side of my family — Morningstar is a German name — they were all Jewish immigrants.”

The idea to erect a tower honoring Trump came to him months ago, he said, right around when the COVID-19 pandemic was picking up. After Morningstar had seen other grand gestures showing support for Trump, he decided it was his turn to make his own.

“I see people putting out ginormous flags or I’ve seen guys on the internet turn an entire field into a Trump 2020 flag and I thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool to have a mini Trump Tower in the front yard just to show support for the President.’”

The idea had been tossed around by Morningstar and a few of his friends, he said, but it wasn’t until last week that he got a call from one of his friends saying he wanted to put the plan in action. 

Morningstar said community members and personal friends helped construct it, and once it was completed and pictures of the structure had reached social media, outrage began to swell.

In a since-deleted post to a Facebook group titled “Team Trump,” Morningstar posted two pictures of his tower with the caption “We support our President! Morton WA.”

There were commenters who showed their support, but also commenters like Tre Nichols who said “Looks like a KKK hat to me! Just sayin” followed by a few emojis.

“All these people are coming out of the woodwork saying it is a Klan hat, which is totally ridiculous,” Morningstar said.

Morningstar said he removed the spire from the model tower out of sensitivity to eliminate any resemblance to a KKK hood, which he characterized as a reach from people who dislike Trump.

He also noted that he has seen much larger gestures of support to Trump that didn’t receive nearly as much criticism as his tower, which in part, was why he did not feel his Trump tower would be brought into focus the way it has online.

“I never really thought it would be a big target, but now, it is a little concerning, because the amount of vitriol and hate is ridiculous,” Morningstar said.

Mayor of Morton, Dan Mortensen, said on Tuesday that Morningstar’s Trump tower didn’t make a large impression on him because Morningstar had told him he had planned on making it a while ago.

Furthermore, he did not see an issue with the structure, saying it is no different than having a Trump sign or a Joe Biden sign in your yard.

“It appears to be a light-hearted rendition of the Trump Tower and he supports President Trump,” Mortensen said. “I don’t know why anyone would be upset about that, no different than putting a Biden sign in my yard. I guess I just fail to see the issue.”

Morton City Council member Richard Vanderlip said in an email he, personally, does not like the Trump tower, but more concerning to him is the divisiveness in American politics that he says is largely responsible for the controversy over the tower.

“I am not pleased with the division that is playing out in politics across our nation,” Vanderlip wrote. “I think the “Tower” is gaudy but it is on private property and protected by the first amendment. The negative publicity that the tower is generating is largely a function of the division I mentioned.”

(12) comments

sjohnsonteete

Sigh....clueless

rogar555

What a moron. Spanky trump/putin is the very worst thing that has ever happened to this country and those who cannot understand that fact are just morons.

JohnNelsonBand

I thought liberals were understanding and caring. Attacking other people's thoughts and rights it's not me very nice. Matter of fact when my children. Call each other's names and fight. I put them in time out.

JohnNelsonBand

Calling others morons is not nice.

Fiat Trucker

Is someone in need of more attention?

I Got Nuthin'

Oh the irony. Trump is the leader of a crime family/crime syndicate and the most corrupt president in US history. His refusal to provide his tax returns (a broken campaign promise) is simply a defensive mechanism to avoid prosecution. His bribery of Stromy Daniels, embezzlement of inauguration funds, manipulation of the stock market, and most recently suggestion that voters vote twice are all illegal. I guess Chief Morningstar isn't bothered by white collar crime. Thankfully the AG of New York State is and Trump know it which is why he'll break every law and undermine our democracy to stay in office and out of jail.

Karynn999

Not into Trump, and this is super tacky, but its his property, he can do what he wants. We are building a guillotine for our yard <3

Frogmom

Well

DrGeochem

I love it! I think it is wonderful to share your passion for this country. I applaud your energy. Interesting how the people I admire and respect support Trump and the people who do not... Well I wouldn't trust them watch one of my plants over the weekend. I might have to take a trip back to Morton just to take a picture next this thing. Chief Morningstar you are awesome! #MHSClassof89

spencers

Surprised by the vitriol? Has he ever listened to Trump speak about immigrants, people of color or his political opponents? This is completely inappropriate for a sheriff. How can people of color or immigrants expect fair treatment from law enforcement in this town? This is also across from the elementary school. It's intimidating to immigrants and people of color. It sets a horrible example for children, to celebrate a person who is a cruel bully. The day after Trump was elected my children were called racial slurs at school in Morton and the few immigrant children were told that they would be run out of town on the Trump Train. I had to get my family out of that town because Trump unleashed and normalized a level of racism that had previously been kept quiet and behind closed doors. This is sad, but not surprising.

pachrx36

Morton is becoming known for its racism. Since the unfortunate decision by the mayor a few years ago during the Loggers Jubilee to award a truck with a Trump and confederate flag first prize and now the sherriffs blatant attempt to show the nation that he also doesn't care how the citizens of Morton feel or how the state views this little town.Shame on all of you

pachrx36

It is very sad the reputation Morton is getting.From the blatant first prize given to A confederate flag ridden float in the Loggers Jubilee and now the sheriff shows us its best not to visit Morton.

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