An Indiana man is apologizing after a picture of his “racist” Fourth of July float was posted to Facebook.
“I apologize to anyone I offended, which would be a total liberal,” 73-year-old Sheridan, Indiana resident Don Christy told the Indianapolis Star.
“I have my right to say things,” he said. “Isn’t that what the Fourth of July’s about? Freedom.”
Christy told the news site he did not fill out an entry form for Monday’s parade, which is organized by the Sheridan Lions Club, and instead lined his golf cart up with the other floats at the high school parking lot, as he had done in years past.
Organizers waved him along and he was in, said Christy, who donned a blonde wig and prison jumpsuit while driving in a makeshift jail cell. On the front of the red cart was a stuffed lion with a sign that read “African Lion.” Riding in the back, on what appeared to be a toilet with the message “Royal Flush” was a doll depicting President Obama with a sign underneath: “Lying African,” ABC 6 reports.
Christy’s cart also included signs of support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on the roof, as well as two American flags.
“I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican,” Christy told the Star. “I’m a patriot.”
The local senior citizen told the news site he likes to bring something humorous to the parade, and last year he dressed as a gay person.
“Me and a guy got married (during the parade),” Christy said. “It was funny.”
Several folks who attended the parade snapped pictures of Christy’s float and posted them to Facebook, which prompted harsh backlash against the “hateful” and “racist” display.
Christy described himself as “not politically correct” and “old school,” but told Fox 59 his golf cart display was not designed to be racist.
“What is racist about it? What was racist?” he questioned. “He (Obama) is an African, right?”
“It’s obvious. I don’t think our government’s very honest,” Christy added. “I don’t trust them. I think they’re going the wrong way with this country. I am definitely not a liberal.”
Others who watched with their young children as Christy’s float rolled by had a different take.
“The parade, it’s for kids. This is Independence Day,” Darryl Brownie told the Star. “It was just wrong.”
Rebekah Sanders attended the parade with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, and was “absolutely appalled by the float,” according to the news site.
“Too many people die fighting for our freedom,” said Sanders, 24, adding that she won’t be back next year. “I don’t think that display is the type of freedom they are out there fighting for.”
“I do not want my child to think that racism is okay,” she said.
County commissioners Steve Dillinger and Mark Heirbrandt described Christy’s display as racist and embarrassing, according to the Star.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions,” Heirbrandt said, “but in this particular case I was very disappointed to see this happen.”
“There is just a common decency of dealing with people and being an American,” Dillinger added. “I would never say anything about the president’s race because I don’t think it has any place in government, politics or life.”
Local police said they received no complaints about the Christy’s float.
“The only thing we do is lead the parade and direct traffic,” Sheridan Police Chief Robert Shock said. “I saw it for the first time when it came by me at the parade.”
The Sheridan Lions Club did not respond to media inquiries about the ordeal.
Lions Club International issued a statement to make it clear the organization had nothing to do with Christy’s creation.
“We are a non-political organization,” the statement read, according to Fox 59. “Anything that would be found to be offensive should not be on anything affiliated with Lions Clubs.”