US clown with Obama mask draws criticism

2013-08-12 14:02
US President Barack Obama (File, AP)

US President Barack Obama (File, AP)

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Kansas City — A clown wearing a President Barack Obama mask appeared at a Missouri State Fair event this weekend, and the announcer asked the enthusiastic spectators if they wanted to see "Obama run down by a bull".

The state's second highest-ranking official, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, denounced the performance in a tweet on Sunday. He said it was "disrespectful" to the president.

"We are better than this," the Republican tweeted.

State Fair officials on Sunday said the show was "inappropriate" and "does not reflect the opinions or standards" of the fair.

It wasn't clear if any action will be taken against the performers.

Perry Beam, who was among the spectators, said "everybody screamed" and "just went wild" as the announcer talked about having the bull run down the clown with the Obama mask.

'Klan rally'

"It was at that point I began to feel a sense of fear. It was that level of enthusiasm," Beam said.

He said another clown ran up to the one wearing the Obama mask, pretended to tickle him and played with the lips on the mask. About 15 minutes into the performance, the masked clown had to leave after a bull got too close, Beam said.

"They mentioned the president's name, I don't know, 100 times. It was sickening," Beam said. "It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you'd see on TV," he said, referring to the Klu Klux Klan, which terrorised African-Americans for decades.

Officials with the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, the organisation that co-ordinated the rodeo, did not return phone calls seeking comment on Sunday.

After Beam and his family returned home, he posted a photo of the clown in the Obama mask on his Facebook page. The photo and the posting were then promoted online by a blog, Showmeprogress.com, which elicited a huge response Sunday on Twitter.

Scott Holste, spokesperson for Missouri's Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, said on Sunday in an e-mail that Nixon "agrees that the performance was disrespectful and offensive, and does not reflect the values of Missourians or the State Fair".

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