DAKOTA CITY, Neb. -- Dakota City councilman Bob Lane whipped up a controversy when he placed a sign on his property reading "Never Trust a Man Named Mohamed."
Lane, well-known in Dakota City for his strong opinions primarily on local and county government, placed the sign near a multiplex rental unit he owns in the 300 block of North 14th Street, a high-traffic route into the Dakota County town of 1,827. The sign led several residents to lodge complaints at City Hall.
Lane told the Journal he had removed the Mohamed sign after it had been up for more than a week and replaced it midafternoon Monday with a holiday message. He didn't specify what the Mohamed name referenced.
"It is freedom of speech. Whenever we have a problem in the nation, the first name, the middle name or the last name is often Mohamed," said Lane, a multi-term councilman who was re-elected this year.
Kathy Bruyere lives in South Sioux City and owns rental property in Dakota City near the sign.
"I find this very offensive," Bruyere said. "We have a lot of East African workers who come to Tyson (Foods packing plant), and they are going to see this every day. A city councilman should not be representing the city of Dakota City in this manner. It is a manner that promotes hate and fear."
Bruyere said she called the city of Dakota City in the morning and heard there had been several complaints. Yet, the city has no control over the sign because it is on private land and is an expression of free speech.
John Fickler of Dakota City said the Mohamed reference was mystifying in his circle of friends. Fickler said it is unclear whether the name reference was general or specific. Others wondered whether the reference was to a man named Mohamed who perhaps didn't pay rent to Lane or the prophet (commonly spelled Muhammad) who is central in the founding of the Islam religion.
Some of Lane's previous messages have criticized Dakota County government decisions, and others have been humorous or seasonal.
"Sometimes they are on local politics, whatever hits the moment. We haven't quite figured (the new) one out yet," Fickler said.
A person who lives in Lane's complex with the sign said the city councilman has a right to express his opinion but worried that people might think the Mohamed reference came from one of the renters and retaliate against them.
Others said they thought the Lane reference was to the Prophet Muhammad and will stir prejudice, while some said there are problems with Islam, since some followers are openly hostile to Christians.