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Obama effigy found on U. of Kentucky campus

School President Lee Todd says that he plans to personally apologize to the Obama family on behalf of the university
/ Source: The Associated Press

Authorities at the University of Kentucky are trying to find out who hung an effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on campus.

College spokesman Carl Nathe said it was found hanging from a tree Wednesday morning. Police immediately took it down.

School President Lee Todd says that he plans to personally apologize to the Obama family on behalf of the university and that he is "personally offended and deeply embarrassed by this disgusting episode."

It's the second time an effigy has been found on a college campus recently. Earlier this week, George Fox University in Oregon said it was punishing four students who confessed to hanging a likeness of Obama from a tree.

Palin incident
Secret Service agents recently visited a California home where a mannequin of Sarah Palin hangs from a noose.

Deputy Special Agent in Charge Wayne Williams says so far that incident seems to be a harmless, though unusual, Halloween display.

He tells The Associated Press they are not treating it as a threat.

But local officials aren't quite as accepting of the display, which also features John McCain surrounded by fake flames coming out of the bungalow's chimney.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang has urged resident Chad Morrisette to remove the mannequins, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is calling for an investigation into whether the effigy constitutes a hate crime because it targeted the candidates based on their political affiliation.

"Had this stupid act been done to Senator (Barack) Obama, there would appropriately have been a national outcry," he said in a statement.

Hate crime or free speech
County Counsel Ray Fortner said he would discuss the matter with the district attorney and report back to Antonovich with a legal opinion.

Prang said Morrisette had the right to create the display, but "I strongly oppose political speech that references violence — real or perceived. I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion."

Morrisette said he has no plans to take down the effigy before Halloween. He said he and his partner, Mito Aviles, created it about three weeks ago but didn't expect to cause such a stir.

"If it's a political statement, it's that (McCain's and Palin's) politics are scary to us," Morrisette told The Los Angeles Times. "This is our palette and this is our venue of expression."

Neighbors didn't mind at first, but the media's fascination with the display has neighbors concerned about negative coverage reflecting poorly on the neighborhood, they said.

"We don't want to make enemies with anyone," Aviles said. "This isn't what it was supposed to be about."

Law enforcement officials said the display is protected by the First Amendment and does not violate any city, state or federal laws.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department received at least 60 calls from around the country complaining about the effigy.