The Trump supporter who drove through an Indiana Fourth of July parade with a mannequin of President Barack Obama holding a sign that read “Lying African” said he’s a “patriot.”
Don Christy told the Indy Star Wednesday he thought his float was funny, noting that he’s not a Democrat or a Republican.
“I’m a patriot,” he told the publication.
Christy, 73, wore a jumpsuit as he took a golf cart topped with signs supporting Donald Trump through Monday’s Fourth of July parade in Sheridan, a rural community north of Indianapolis. The cart’s front featured a stuffed animal head with a sign that read “African Lion” while the back had a doll wearing an Obama mask sitting on a toilet that read "Royal Flush" and “Lying African."
He told NBC affiliate WTHR that he's not a "racist" and didn't intend on making an offensive statement, but was simply showcasing his independence on Independence Day.
The float sparked an uproar on social media, with many questioning how organizers allowed it in the event.
“On behalf of the town of Sheridan, I am deeply appalled by the blatantly disrespectful and racist display that took place during the Lion’s Club Fourth of July parade in Sheridan yesterday,” David Kinkead, Sheridan Town Council president said in a statement Tuesday. “Such an act is not representative of the town of Sheridan, the town’s elected officials, or the residents of our community. Our town, community, and county have always striven to be open and inclusive to all regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation.”
Kinkead noted that anyone is allowed to participate in the parade as long as the “safety of the public was not put at risk.” He added that registration for the parade was not required, though entrants had the option to register if they wanted to be considered for prizes.
“We have been told that the person who decided to promote his own political agenda by way of his display did not register,” he said. “As a community, we are profoundly saddened by the discomfort, anger, and humiliation this individual has caused for so many. It is unfortunately that an event that has always provided so much joy for the community may have to be regulated in the future to require advance registration of participants.”
A spokesperson for the Lions Clubs International said it is aware of the incident and called the float a “violation of our policies and principles.”
“We are certainly aware of the incident. It came to our attention yesterday morning,” Dane LaJoye, division manager for public relations, told NBC Chicago. “We have spoken with the club president down in Sheridan and have been informed that they are working with local officials there in Sheridan to come up with some kind of parade procedures for next year and beyond so that this doesn’t happen again. We are a non-political organization and this incident was a violation of our policies and our principles.”
Still, Christy said he believes it was his right to express his beliefs at the event, telling the Indy Star “isn’t that what the Fourth of July is about—Freedom?”