Mayor of West Virginia Town Resigns, Official Placed on Leave After Racist Michelle Obama Post | NBC Connecticut
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Mayor of West Virginia Town Resigns, Official Placed on Leave After Racist Michelle Obama Post

Clay County's development corporation director referred to Michelle Obama as an "Ape in heels" in a Facebook post

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A petition calls for the removal of a West Virginia mayor and county worker over a Facebook post referring to First Lady Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels." WSAZ's Jatara McGee reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016)

    A local West Virginia official was placed on leave after she posted a racist comment about first lady Michelle Obama on Facebook, and the local mayor who responded positively to the racist comment has resigned.

    The town recorder in Clay, West Virginia, said Tuesday that Mayor Beverly Whaling's resignation is effective immediately.

    Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Republican Donald Trump's election as president, saying: "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels." 

    Whaling responded: "Just made my day Pam." 

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    Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday night that she was put on leave. 

    Meanwhile, Whaling issued a written apology to news media outlets saying that her comment wasn't intended to be racist. 

    "I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I'm not in any way racist!" 

    Taylor did not return a call seeking comment. 

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    Clay's town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday evening. 

    The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, has caused a backlash and prompted calls for Taylor and Mayor Whaling to be fired. The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted. The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn't be found Monday. 

    The nonprofit Clay County Development Corp. provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County. It is funded through state and federal grants and local fees. It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 50 miles east of Charleston. 

    Owens Brown, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's West Virginia chapter, is among those calling for the removal of both women. 

    "I believe that some people believe they have permission to express their racism since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency," Brown said in a written statement to NBC News. "This type of attitude cannot be tolerated in this racially charged atmosphere. That is why I am demanding that the Clay County Development Corporation fire director Pamela Ramsey Taylor and Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling resign for her comment concerning the racist post."

    African-Americans make up about 4 percent of West Virginia's 1.8 million residents, according to the U.S. Census. 

    About 77 percent of Clay County residents supported Trump in the Nov. 8 election. In 2012, President Barack Obama received 31 percent of the county vote when Republican Mitt Romney easily carried the state. 

    Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County in a race for the state House of Representatives, despite a series of posts he put on Facebook depicting President Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys. Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be "welcome in our caucus."

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