Friday 15 December 2017

'Ape in heels' - Officials under fire for comments about Michelle Obama

The director and the mayor have been urged to step down over remarks about Michelle Obama (AP)
The director and the mayor have been urged to step down over remarks about Michelle Obama (AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

A racist post about US First Lady Michelle Obama has prompted calls for the director of a West Virginia development group and a mayor to be sacked.

Clay County Development director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Donald Trump's election as president, saying: "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels [sic]."

Clay's mayor Beverly Whaling responded: "Just made my day Pam."

The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted.

An online petition is seeking to remove Ms Whaling and Ms Taylor.

The non-profit development group provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County, and is funded through state and federal grants and local fees.

Michelle Obama features on December's issue of Vogue
Michelle Obama features on December's issue of Vogue

It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 50 miles east of Charleston.

Owens Brown, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People's West Virginia chapter, is among those calling for the removal of both women.

"I feel so it's unfortunate that people still have these racist undertones," Mr Brown said.

"Unfortunately, this is a reality that we are dealing with in America today. There's no place for these types of attitudes in our state."

African-Americans make up about 4% of West Virginia's 1.8 million residents, according to the US census.

About 77% of Clay County residents supported Trump in the November 8 election. In 2012, US president Barack Obama received 31% of the county vote when Republican Mitt Romney easily carried the state.

The town council has a previously scheduled meeting arranged for Tuesday.

Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County despite a series of Facebook posts which depicted Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys.

Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Mr Johnson to drop out of the race. But Mr Hoover declared last week that Mr Johnson would be "welcome in our caucus".

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