Missouri NAACP president calls rodeo clown act a hate crime

The rodeo clown who wore a President Obama mask at the Missouri State Fair committed a hate crime, an NAACP official said.

ADVERTISEMENT
“I think that a hate crime has occurred,” Mary Ratliff, the head of the NAACP's chapter in Missouri told KXNT Radio in Las Vegas on Thursday. 

“I think a hate crime occurs when you use a person’s race to depict who they are and to make degrading comments, gestures, et cetera, against them.”

The rodeo clown donned the Obama mask before being chased around by bulls in a pen, according to reports. The clown was introduced by an announcer who asked the audience if they wanted to see “Obama run down by a bull.” The Missouri State Fair on Monday barred the clown from performing at the fair.

Ratliff said that her organization is asking the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the incident, adding that it is an “outrage” that taxpayer dollars were used to disrespect the president.

“We are taxpayers in the state of Missouri,” Ratliff said. “And when taxpayer money is utilized to discredit and be disrespectful to our president, whether he be black, white, Hispanic, Latina … it is an outrage.”

Ratliff has also asked the Secret Service to investigate the incident.

The act drew national attention and bipartisan condemnation, including from lawmakers like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Missouri's Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Not all lawmakers denounced the rodeo clown. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) on Wednesday invited the clown to perform in Texas, saying Texans “value free and open political speech.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) urged Obama via Twitter on Friday to invite the clown to the White House to discuss their differences over "a beer summit."

King was poking fun at Obama’s decision during his first term to have beers at the White House with Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge, Mass., Police Sgt. James Crowley. 

The sergeant arrested Gates while he was trying to break into his own home, sparking a national discussion about racial profiling. The media referred to the meeting as Obama’s “beer summit.”