Sun Dec 04 14:17:39 SAST 2016

US mayor resigns after racist Michelle Obama post

AFP | 2016-11-17 08:59:19.0
The furor over the racist comment, and the mayor's seemingly agreeable response, prompted an online petition drive to have the two women ousted. File photo
Image by: EDUARDO MUNOZ / REUTERS

A mayor from West Virginia has resigned amid a furor over a racist Facebook post that described First Lady Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels," US media said.

Beverly Whaling, the mayor of the tiny town of Clay, had appeared to applaud the incendiary comment and stepped down Tuesday amid the ensuing firestorm.

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Local television news channel WSAZ confirmed that Whaling had resigned.

According to WSAZ, Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor had posted after Donald Trump's election: "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."

The comments were later deleted and both women's Facebook pages were eventually taken offline, The Washington Post reported citing local media.

Staffers at the Clay County Development Corp. told WSAZ that Taylor had been removed from her position.

Barack Obama's eight years in office have been marred by racial slurs against the nation's first African American president and his family.

Clay has a population of less than 500, according to the 2010 census, and is the seat of Clay County in West Virginia.

The furor over the racist comment, and the mayor's seemingly agreeable response, prompted an online petition drive to have the two women ousted.

The text on www.thepetitionsite.com gathered nearly 160,000 signatures from across the country.

Whaling had apologized in a statement Monday to The Washington Post, writing: "My comment was not intended to be racist at all."

Michelle Obama emerged as a hugely popular surrogate for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.

Trump, a billionaire businessman, won West Virginia's five electoral votes, helping him to his unexpected triumph over Clinton.

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