HUNTSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Controversy is brewing over a float that was featured in Huntsville's annual 4th of July parade.
The float, created by Huntsville native Dave Clawson featured a man wearing a President Obama mask stepping out of a limo and dancing with girls and fake secret service agents. A sign on the side of the limo read "Huntsville welcomes the Obama Farewell Tour. Another sign on the back of the limo had the words, "'Ask about our assault gun plan. Call Eric Holder."
The signs in particular drew criticism from people who posted comments on The Standard Examiner's website. One person who saw the signs as a threat to Obama stated, "The intent was disgusting and was not entertaining or funny. Our President and AG Holder should get an apology and so should decent citizens of the state of Utah."
Despite the criticism, Huntsville residents say Clawson's parody floats are a tradition every 4th of July. In the past Clawson has roasted Presidents Bush and Clinton and celebrites such as Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson. "They choose a topic in the news and it's a joke. Everyone knows okay that was this year, what's next year going to be," says Huntsville resident Cheyenne Johnson.
Clawson says the sign about the assault gun plan was in reference to the government's Fast and Furious scandal that was meant to stem the flow of firearms into Mexican drug cartels. Clawson adamantly says the sign was not meant as a threat to the president. "I was referring to a very current event called the Fast and Furious scandal and I think it's a travesty. People lost their lives and died."
Huntsville's mayor Jim Truett has been receving messages and voicemails calling him a racist ever since the float appeared. Truett had no idea the float was going to be in the parade because he claims Clawson never officially registered for the float lineup. Truett made an official apology on Friday July 6. "I just want to say on behalf of the town council and the town of Huntsville, that viewpoint does not represent us at all."
Some parade goers are defending the float, saying it was simply a way of exercising freedom of speech. "I saw it and thought it was hilarious. It upsets me that people think it's racist because it's a black president. We've been making fun of presidents since I don't know when," says Ogden resident Robert Steedley.
"I just thought they were giving an opinion and there was no threat. They just wanted his presidency to end," says Obama supporter Tim Hansen.
While Clawson does not want any negative attention shed on the town of Huntsville, he flat out says he will not apologize for sharing his opinion. "I will offer an apology to no one for it. There was nothing wrong with it. We were just expressing a little political humor and that's just fine. If you watch Saturday Night Live, you'll see much worse every time."