Noose removed from window of Quilcene’s Whistling Oyster

Posted 7/3/19

The noose in the window of the Whistling Oyster has been taken down, but the debate over its meaning rages on.

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Noose removed from window of Quilcene’s Whistling Oyster


The noose in the window of the Whistling Oyster has been taken down, but the debate over its meaning rages on.

While Whistling Oyster owner Bill Bacchus apparently removed the noose, Facebook users continued to comment on the June 19 story about the noose on The Leader’s Facebook page.

Efforts to reach Bacchus through family and friends were unsuccessful. By Saturday, June 29, the noose was gone, as was the reader-board which had borne the message “U S A FREEDOM TRUMP JUSTICE.”

Emily Anne Ward, an employee of the Quilcene Village Store, urged those who promised to boycott the town’s businesses not to do so, pointing to her own store’s “Love Wins” window sign and color-changing lights in honor of Pride Month.

“There are a lot of people in Quilcene who work very hard to spread love,” Ward said. “The Quilcene I know is loving and diverse and expanding.”

Ward was heartened to see the noose had been taken down, because regardless of its intended meaning, she believed it gave the wrong impression to the hundreds of tourists a day who stop by the Quilcene Village Store.

“I’ve heard theories he was trying to keep people from stealing stuff, by showing what happened to people who used to steal,” Ward said. “If so, he could have placed a clarifying statement next to the noose. It was very aggressive, and a little nerve-wracking for visitors to see.”

Don Young has lived just outside of Port Townsend for about 30 years, and practiced dentistry in Port Hadlock for about as long.

Although he’s never lived in Quilcene, he’s dealt with its business community as a former vice president of the Tri-Area Chamber of Commerce, and he doesn’t wish to see the people of Quilcene tarred with a broad brush, either.

“When I first heard of the noose, I thought it sent an unfortunate message to those driving through Quilcene, whether they were tourists or folks from Port Townsend,” Young said. “I considered it negative marketing, and thought it would make people less likely to return to or invest in the community.”

Young was pleased to hear the noose had been taken down, even as he acknowledged Mr. Bacchus’ First Amendment rights.

“He has the right to express himself how he likes, but other people have the right to say, ’This is not the best thing for our community,’” Young said. “The community — however you define ’the community’ — has an obligation to make clear what does and doesn’t define it.”

Young praised Quilcene as “a great community,” and lamented that it should receive poor press just as he believes it’s beginning to grow out of a struggling economy.

“The noose, that’s not their culture,” Young said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole said there had been no other calls made to them about the noose since the Whistling Oyster’s windows displaying the noose were covered with gray paint.

“I don’t know what inspired Mr. Bacchus to take down the noose, but for those people who were distressed by its presence, I’m glad it happened,” Nole said. “I’d like to think that he saw how much it was upsetting people and chose to take it down as a good neighbor.”


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Justin Hale

No noose is good news.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Tom Camfield

Good one, Justin!

And my regards to the memory of my old friend Bill Clark, who operated the Whistling Oyster tavern during a memorable period of years back around the '60s. That noose was an affront to the kind spirit of those years.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Pam S

Bill isn’t a racist and everyone who jumped all over him for being one owes him an apology. How awful to see a town persecute and vilify someone for something they didn’t understand.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Marge Samuelson

So, Pam maybe you can explain Mr. Bachus's reason for hanging a noose in his window.

Thursday, July 4, 2019
Fred Camfield

I don't know what the noose was intended to mean in Jefferson County, WA. In Vicksburg, MS, it would invoke memories of the Klan. From the standpoint of a national audience, it is bad press. Such things go rapidly viral on social media.

Friday, July 5, 2019