A Fourth of July parade in Nebraska featured an Obama float that many local residents and politicians are saying was racist and disrespectful to the president.
A float included in the Norfolk, Nebraska, annual event featured a dummy wearing overalls and standing next to a walker outside of an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library.” The float was attached to a trailer that was towed behind a blue pickup truck, reports the Omaha World Herald, and its sponsor has yet to come forward.
Many residents found the float disturbing, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
“I’m angry and I’m scared,” Glory Kathurima, who immigrated to Norfolk from Kenya, said. “This float was not just political; this was absolutely a racial statement.”
Kathurima said her 9-year-old daughter, who accompanied her to the parade, could not understand why people in the crowd laughed as the float went by, and that she did not know how to explain it to her.
Officials from the Nebraska Democratic Party echoed the woman’s concerns. “We have seen many times when Nebraskans disapproved of the President, but this clearly crosses the line,” Nebraska Democratic Party executive director Dan Marvin said in a statement. “There is a level of respect for the office of the Presidency which should not be crossed. It’s beyond disappointing the City of Norfolk, its officials, and citizens would allow such a thing.”
But Rick Konopasek, who is a parade committee member, says those who were offended by the float were missing the point and that it was meant to be as harmless as a political cartoon. “We don’t feel it’s right to tell someone what they can and can’t express,” Konopasek said. “This was political satire. If we start saying no to certain floats, we might as well not have a parade at all.”
Konopasek went on to say that “95 percent” of the community liked the float, and that it would have been unfair to pull it for the 5 percent who found it racist.
Norfolk City Councilman Dick Pfeil said the city did not “condone” the Obama float, but that the Norfolk Old Fellows Lodge coordinates the parade each year and that it is ultimately up to its members to decide which floats make the cut.