Norfolk Mayor Sue Fuchtman says she’s disappointed a float in the city’s Independence Day parade disparaged President Barack Obama.
On the float, a mannequin in overalls stands just outside an outhouse with the words “Obama Presidential Library” on the outside.
While some at the Odd Fellow’s 4th of July parade thought it was funny, Fuchtman does not.
“We are disappointed that the occasion of this family-friendly celebration of America’s birth was used in a way that disparaged the office of the president,” Fuchtman says. “As an open and inclusive city, we do have a responsibility to foster an environment of free exchange, but certainly also one of civility, courtesy, and decency.”
The city does not sponsor the 4th of July parade, the Odd Fellows do. Representatives of the Odd Fellows defend the float as political satire. They reject notions that the float is racist.
Observers at the parade say many laughed and applauded the float. Some, though, say it went well beyond acceptable political speech.
Fuchtman hopes to distance the city from the float.
“This incident and the controversy it caused does not reflect the character, nor the spirit of our city or our state,” according to Fuchtman. “And certainly we hope to demonstrate that to all who are open to giving us that opportunity.”
Paul Hughes, WJAG, contributed to this article.