Danny Hafley, Kentucky Man, Defends Racist Watermelon-Eating Obama Mannequin as “Free Speech”
A Kentucky man is defending a racist mannequin of President Barack Obama eating a slice of watermelon as “free speech.”
Lex18.com reports that Danny Hafley, a resident of rural Casey County, displayed the life-sized figure of a smiling, watermelon-eating Obama on his property shortly after Halloween as “a joke.” Hafley originally posted the mannequin in his yard but thought it would look better by the well-traveled road in front of his home, so he moved it there.
“That’s my buddy,” Hafley told Lex18.com. “He don’t talk. Don’t make no smart comments. If I had a dollar for everyone who stopped and took a picture of it I’d be a millionaire.”
When asked by a Lex18 reporter why he included the watermelon in the display, Hafley quipped that Obama “might get hungry standing out here.”
“The way I look at it, it’s freedom of speech,” Hafley explained.
Although Hafley claims no one has complained about the display, one neighbor told Lex18.com that the mannequin should be removed.
“If he wants to place it someplace else that would be fine,” the anonymous neighbor said. “We don’t have black people in this community but I’m sure they travel this road like everybody else does. They could be offended. I don’t agree with it.”
Hafley, who previously displayed the mannequin to look like the local police chief, said he has no intention of removing the offensive effigy.
“He’s pretty popular,” Hafley said. “If he’s as popular in Washington as he is here then he’s a popular man.”
Watermelon imagery has been repeatedly used against President Obama in the past.
In 2008, a Republican women’s group in southern California sent out a pre-election mailer in which Obama is surrounded by watermelon, ribs, fried chicken and Kool-Aid.
In 2009, Los Alamitos, California Mayor Dean Grose resigned after sending an e-mail including a photo of watermelons lining the White House lawn. Grose was then elected to the Orange County Republican Central Committee.
“The stereotypical association of Blacks with watermelons remains a common occurrence in the United States,” the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Michigan explained. “For example, anti-Blacks jokes often include watermelons with a level of disdain toward African Americans that is reminiscent of the racial hatred common in the early 1900s.”