A Minneapolis pinata maker apologized after photos spread online showing papier-mache figures of African-Americans hanging on his front porch.
The figures, apparently hanging from their necks, unnerved neighbors, including Candace Thurman.
“I was a little upset about it,” she told Minnesota Public Radio. “I just thought it was really inappropriate.”
Thurman, who is black, said the pinatas reminded her of the days when people were lynched because of the color of their skin.
“It just brought back memories. From slavery,” she said. “It just looked bad.”
Photos of the figures went viral.
The home’s owner, Victor Chaverria, insisted he intended no racial statement or slur. He runs Happy Kids Pinatas, and was working on an order for a multi-racial wedding party.
The reaction to the figures was angry enough that Chaverria called the police, worried about possible backlash, according to The Associated Press.
Still, he said he understands why people might be upset by the photo.
“It looks horrifying,” Chavarria told Minneapolis City Pages. “I realized right away how horrible it looked without any context.”
The wedding order ended up being canceled, and Chaverria said he’ll stop hanging pinatas on his porch to dry, according to local station WCCO.
Chaverria apologized on Facebook, and attempted to explain how Hispanics interpret pinatas:
“We want to teach our children to reach for the goodness inside, regardless of the shape.
“The birthday kid usually chooses a liked character such spider man or a Disney princess. In this case, i was making piñatas for a wedding, that happened to include Caucasian, Latino and African American groom and bridesmaids.
“It is unfortunate that many were offended with something unfamiliar to them. However, I liked that you openly stated your frustration. This gave me the opportunity to share instead of assume everyone understands piñatas.
“With that, I’d like to reassure that I am respectfully to you and your opinion. I’d like to sincerely apologize for my ignorance/lack or sensitivity with my community here in north Minneapolis. I promise I’ll do better. Effective immediately, I am changing my production processes.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.