BARRINGTON, Ill. (CBS) — The owners of a Barrington antique shop are offending some people with what’s outside their store.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, an iron lawn jockey outside Tivoli Garden Antiques, at 107 E. Main St. in Barrington, is angering some who see it as an offensive and racist symbol.

Selander Morris, an instructor at nearby Barrington Martial Arts, tells the Daily Herald when he saw the item, he was shocked by the racial insensitivity. He tells the paper such ignorance is particularly dangerous now, given that racially-motivated violence continues in America.

But Tivoli Garden Antiques co-owner Gwendolyn Whiston tells the paper that lawn jockeys actually represent something much different. She says they were a crucial part of the Underground Railroad, and helped many runaway slaves flee the South.

During those days, she says, a lit lantern on the jockey marked a home that was a safe haven for the slaves, Whiston told the Daily Herald.

Some historians say Whiston’s explanation is true, while others are skeptical.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Watch & Listen LIVE