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Missouri State Fair Scandal: Boonville Schools to Hire Investigator, NAACP Wants DOJ Action

obama-clown-1.jpg
Courtesy of Perry Beam
Rodeo clown with Obama mask.
It's been four days since the controversial performance of a Missouri State Fair rodeo clown dressed as Obama -- but the condemning statements and the calls for investigations continue to roll in.

Yesterday we reported that Mark Ficken, the announcer during the stunt who alleges he was not behind the act, resigned as president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association. Ficken, his attorney says, is trying to focus his energy on his real job as superintendent of the Boonville School District.

School officials, however, now say they are in the process of hiring an outside investigator to determine if any district employees were "involved in the inappropriate conduct." Meanwhile, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling for federal investigations into the actions at the fair on Saturday.

See also:
- Mark Ficken, State Fair Announcer in Obama Rodeo Scandal, Says Reports Are Wrong
- Missouri State Fair Rodeo Clown Identified, Permanently Banned From Performing
- State Fair Controversy: Mark Ficken Resigns As Rodeo Cowboy Association President
- State Fair Clown Tuffy Gessling Gets Huge Online Following After Obama Stunt

In case you haven't been keeping up with the drama, a quick recap: On Sunday, the story of a Saturday evening rodeo clown performance went viral, sparking national scrutiny and immediate criticisms from Democrats and Republicans. Photos and videos -- which we published here -- show a rodeo clown in an Obama mask accompanied by an announcer asking if the crowd wanted to see him run down by a bull. And the crowd apparently loved the skit. The clown, who goes by the name Tuffy Gessling, has been permanently banned from the fair, which is a state-run, taxpayer-funded event. The clown has also posted a short apology.

Ficken says he did not make controversial comments attributed to him, but simply said, "Watch out for that bull Obama!" Regardless, he has stepped down as head of the cowboy association, which puts on the rodeo show (and whose contract is currently being reviewed by state officials).

Ficken is not, it seems, in the clear yet. The statement from the Boonville R-1 School District -- sent to Daily RFT by board President Charles Melkersman this morning -- does not directly name Ficken, but says that the district "will not tolerate racially inflammatory statements by its...employees."

tuffy-gessling-fb-image.jpg
via Facebook
Tuffy Gessling.

The district is hiring an "outside investigator" and at the conclusion of the investigation, "if it is discovered that District employees participated in the offensive conduct or remarks, then the District will take appropriate action," says the statement, full version below.

The NAACP in its own statement -- published yesterday on OzarksFirst.com -- says the bull-riding stunt warrants investigations by the Secret Service and the United States Department of Justice. From NAACP State President Mary Ratliff:

The activities at the Missouri State Fair targeting and inciting violence against our President are serious and warrant a full review by both the Secret Service and the Justice Department. Incidents involving individuals acting out with extreme violent behavior in movie theaters, schools, churches, political appearances, and outdoor events in general speaks volume to the irresponsible behavior of all the parties involved with the incendiary events at the Missouri State Fair.

Governor Jay Nixon -- who is responsible for holding relevant parties accountable, critics say -- addressed the controversy at a recent news conference with reporters. He says the actions were "inappropriate and offensive" and that his office of administration is reviewing the contracts in question.

But he says the fair must go on: "The Missouri State Fair is an important part of the traditions of our state and when people mess with that tradition, certainly it upsets us.... I'm not one to, because somebody does something insensitive or offensive, that we should back off on what's been a long tradition for the fair." You can watch the short remarks here, via KWMU (90.7 FM):

Here's the full statement from Boonville School District, followed by videos of the stunt and some reactions from our earlier coverage:

The Boonville R-1 School District is aware of the reports regarding the inappropriate conduct that occurred at the Missouri State Fair bull riding competition this past weekend. It is unclear at this time what involvement District employees, if any, had at this non-school event. However, upon receiving these reports, the District immediately began the process of hiring an outside investigator to determine whether District employees were involved in the inappropriate conduct. At the conclusion of the investigation, if it is discovered that District employees participated in the offensive conduct or remarks, then the District will take appropriate action. The District will not tolerate racially inflammatory statements by its District employees. The District strives to maintain the highest level of standards for all of our employees, and ensures all students, parents, and patrons of the District that this matter will be thoroughly reviewed and all appropriate measures will be taken.

Continue for more reactions on the clown controversy and the original videos from the Missouri State Fair.

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187 comments
Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

^LOL Jim, when they respond like that is when you know you have won the debate.

chas.manson
chas.manson

I can not speak for other presidents, but I remember seeing a lot worse done when W. was president.  I am not going to argue with the folks saying this was in bad taste or it should not have been done a a state sponsored event because I understand what they are saying, but the NAACP now wanting DOJ and Secret Service investigations is beyond me and nothing more than posturing.   People acting all offended at this and did not say a word when previous presidents were hung in effigy are nothing but hypocrites.  

Greg Walden
Greg Walden

this is stupid I saw the video- why don't those same people clean up the t v networks

Jay Stevens
Jay Stevens

If it was George Bush, it would be funny, but if it's Nobama its racist!!! NAACP is the most racist org in the US!!!

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

Jim, If you dont stop spewing your racist republiconman bullshit we are going to come after you aned there is not a god dAmn thing you gonna do about it except shit in your pants like the draft dodging koch sucker ted nugent did to avoid going to vietnam!! Innocent animal killing parasite!!

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

People use to be entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Thats not the case in the republicon party anymore. Facts do not matter anymore, perception is everything. Republiconmen want smaller government/deregulation for the same reason crooks want fewer cops, Its alot easier to get away with murder...

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

. The problem for progressives is that conservative values don't look like values at all. They look like prejudices, misogyny, selfishness, lack of compassion, bullying, and selling our democracy to the highest bidder. Locking away people of color in for-profit prisons and keeping people from south of the border who do our most undesirable work from becoming citizens look like prejudices and lack of compassion. Trying to force women and girls to bear unwanted children, obstructing equal pay for women, consistently trying to underfund services for battered women and children, and soft-pedaling rape sure look and feel like misogyny and lack of compassion. Constantly trying to push the Christian religion beyond home and church into schools and public squares used by people of all faiths and no faith feels like bullying. Trying to deny rights and privileges to gays, even obstructing efforts to protect gay students from bullying in schools, looks like selfishness and prejudice. Allowing business interests to take precedence over people's interests and allowing the voices of powerful corporations and wealthy people to drown out the voices of the middle class and poor could spell the end of our democracy. In foreign policy, the execution of American exceptionalism looks more like selfishness and bullying. I actually do try to see the value of conservative values, but I simply cannot see much redeeming

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

In the past 40 years our government has undertaken a series of "conservative" reforms aimed at "unleashing" capitalism. Income taxes have been cut in half for the wealthy investor class. Their capital gains and stock dividend income are now taxed less than are common wages. Corporate income taxes have been cut. Businesses now pay little to no local tax. The Treasury now guarantees at public expense even the most ludicrously harmful business practices. The actual outcome of government realigning itself with business and big money, against consumers and labor, is now evident. "Unleashed" investment has mostly created jobs overseas even as the debt for the tax cuts that facilitate it remains at home. Real wages for American workers have fallen as they have risen for foreign workers. Foreign workers have no pensions so our government now allows businesses to renege on past pension promises made to former workers here. Social Security is being redefined as a "threat to society" because its funds had been "borrowed" by government to cover arbitrary federal income tax cuts. It seems Social Security might have to be repaid unless it can be recast as "evil." Medical care for ordinary people is said to be "communism," but the luxury of wealth is proper capitalism. Money in politics is "freedom" while universal voting is "corruption." I'll tell you what is a threat to society, proven recurrently in history: When economic elites gain untoward control of government and the economy they eventually bring ruin for all including themselves. History also shows that when ordinary people are provided and protected, everyone prospers.

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

Republicons have to lie and deceive people to get elected. Nobody would vote so much against their and families best interests unless decieved. For the last 5 years the republicons have done everything they possibly can to make Obama and America fail. In 2010 they ran and said they would be all jobs jobs jobs. That could not be further from the truth. We have to vote out all republicons in office for the sake of our kids n grandkids futures

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

People use to be entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. Thats not the case in the republicon party anymore. Facts do not matter anymore, perception is everything. Republiconmen want smaller government/deregulation for the same reason crooks want fewer cops, Its alot easier to get away with murder...

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

6-years ago America was literally at the brink of catastrophe. The stock market was crashing, big banks were face down in quicksand (largely at their own doing) and the rest of the financial system was paralyzed as a result, the auto industry was collapsing, the US was hopelessly entangled in two wars - one of which was completely illegitimate, Osama Bin Laden was doing whatever he pleased - along with dozens of other AlQaida leaders who today no longer walk this earth, our foreign policy and president was a pathetic laughing stock, our economy was losing over 800,000 jobs a month and absolute fear was in the air. The economy is still suffering, and it still will for a long time, because NO economy could recover in a mere 3-plus years from the complete disaster brought by Bush and his neo-con, corporatist compatriots... Republiconmen have used gridlock and its determination to undermine the president as its official policy...the same party that rather than working to create jobs (as they promised when they won the house in 2010) instead decided to attack women's health, teachers, unions, voting rights and medicare instead, all while blocking jobs initiatives...the same party that now wants to blame the lack of a full recovery all on Obama and expects the public to buy their nonsense. Look around...that playbook is played-out. I suggest you open your eyes a little wider and start taking in some reality instead of right-wing media talking points. We're still in bad shape, but we're a LOT better off.

Scott Creedon
Scott Creedon

Jay sounds like an idiot. But after reading the diatribe below from him, that has nothing to due with the issue being discussed, I'm convinced he's an idiot. Guess Jay was one of those children left behind

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

During Bushs disgraceful presidency y'all said things like: "If you don't like him (Bush jr, Cheney, etc etc) you can leave", "he won you lost, get over it!", "if you dare question, criticize, or attack the President, his policies, his staff, or his family than you are an anti-American un-patriotic terrorist lover!"... and then of course in November of 2008 they all said... "well if that black man wins I'm leaving the country" - Rush, Hannity, Billo, Beck, republicans, you can still leave! Again and again y'all prove just what hypocritical fools y'all are!!Y'all are the same people who screamed bloody murder over the Dixie Chicks for daring to criticize the President of the United States and are now cheering on Ted Nugent for insinuating he'd like to kill the President of the United States. I guess for them, it really isn't the office that demands respect, as many of them argued at the time. It's not all about patriotism for your country. It's all about the money and power.... anti god beliefs.....

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

Scott sounds like a creepy criminal conservative enabler. You have no credibility here.

Jay Vines
Jay Vines

Where are the jobs republicons???? In the first two years of the Obama administration, republicans broke all historical records for use of the fillibuster. This is easily verified with a simple search. It's called "obstructionism." Here's the playbook of most republicans...Increase negativity as much as possible and avoid all previous GOP failures. Use obstructionism, and distortions as much as possible, even if it hurts the recovery of the nation, with the sole purpose of regaining Congress and the White House.During Bushs disgraceful presidency y'all said things like: "If you don't like him (Bush jr, Cheney, etc etc) you can leave", "he won you lost, get over it!", "if you dare question, criticize, or attack the President, his policies, his staff, or his family than you are an anti-American un-patriotic terrorist lover!"... and then of course in November of 2008 they all said... "well if that black man wins I'm leaving the country" - Rush, Hannity, Billo, Beck, republicans, you can still leave! Again and again y'all prove just what hypocritical fools y'all are!!Y'all are the same people who screamed bloody murder over the Dixie Chicks for daring to criticize the President of the United States and are now cheering on Ted Nugent for insinuating he'd like to kill the President of the United States. I guess for them, it really isn't the office that demands respect, as many of them argued at the time. It's not all about patriotism for your country. It's all about the money and power.... anti god beliefs.....

Jim Ploudre
Jim Ploudre

It is not crime to put on a show wearing a rubber mask of the President of the US. It is a Federal crime to infringe upon the right of free speech. Quite actually it was so important it was the First Amendment to the Consitution. It's the same right that allows the New Black Panthers to use a megaphone on a public sidewalk shouting "“You want freedom? You’re gonna have to kill some crackers! You’re gonna have to kill some of their babies!”

Jim Ploudre
Jim Ploudre

The #ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. ACLU for some but not #white rodeo clowns...

Jim Ploudre
Jim Ploudre

It was on #Missouri tax dollars....you live in Kentucky, go push your #liberal #HATE agenda there.

Jim Ploudre
Jim Ploudre

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. When these folks get their lawyers and sue the State of Missouri, the Boonville School District, & anyone else that abridged their first amendment rights they will be very very rich with your tax dollars.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

I'm SHOCKED. All this outrage, and none of it on the poor bull's behalf? Where is the animal cruelty crowd when you need them???

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

But if you actually READ the stories and the eyewitness accounts, you would both know your statements - while valid - have no bearing in this incident.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

No, not at all. I'm saying it's a WASTE of my tax dollars. Just like the National Endowment.

Craig Mitchell
Craig Mitchell

Chris - so you're saying that our Missouri State Fair isn't funded by our tax dollars? Can you please provide some specifics to support your argument?

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Let's be honest... the president is disrespectful to the Office of the President, every day. Who's calling him out on that?

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Wow Jay - do you have a non-Dixie Chicks argument? You show up all over this thread, but it's like a recording on repeat.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

As a performer you have to be mindful of your audience. By the videos I've seen, the clown was well-received in Sedalia. Maybe the Dixie Chicks should have remembered who was buying all those records before they got on that soapbox.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

He won't show up unless there's a great photo op (Joplin tornado)... sorry, our president is busy - it takes a lot of time covering up all these scandals.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Why do we need a State Fair anyway? This isn't the 1850s... if I want to see the latest innovations, I'll hit up Google News and click on the Technology tab. I hate to say it as an honored dairyman's grandson, but no one gives a shit about who has the prettiest cow anymore.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

The "tea party" that you want to invoke here to demonize the regular Americans cheering in the stands at the thought of a bull running down Obama... well, they DO pay the majority of the taxes that support that fair. I challenge you to refute it.

Jim Ploudre
Jim Ploudre

Feel free not to go to the rodeo in protest or run out and purchase a Dixie Chicks CD to show your support.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

No, if you knew the actual story -- the man who is a school official only said, "Watch out for that bull, Obama!" Great advice for this president, I think.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Why are we spending tax dollars on a State Fair in the first place? Oh yeah... Farm subsidies. Oops again.

Chris McDaniel
Chris McDaniel

Sorry Craig - do I dare bring up the National Endowment for the Arts? Sorry, but your argument is invalid, by millions of tax dollars.

Steve Froemel
Steve Froemel

WEll Craig...your right....the point here is kinda ONE SIDED....RACE BAITING...in my opinion....

Ronda Evansco-Brooks
Ronda Evansco-Brooks

@ Vicky Willhelm - Actually, I'm not a racist. I'll never go to those rallies. Never did, never will. Did you even read other peoples' comments? No? Well, read them. I'm not the only one who thought it was funny. Please....Get over it. I just read from someone saying "EVERY president gets made fun of at length..." The broomstick was not ACTUALLY up his ass AND "President Obama" wasn't going to get stomped on BECAUSE this clown didn't have a chance to make it happen. Well, look at it this way: The clown we're talking about is pretty famous now. To this day, we're still talking about him now, you know? And this one comment saying "....It wasn't racist, but political satire." It was a comedy in my eyes. It was funny. We can tell you don't have a sense of humor.

Adam Lange
Adam Lange

What's it in poor taste, yes, should it not have happened at a state fair of course not, but this most definitely does not constitute a DOJ investigation

Craig Mitchell
Craig Mitchell

No Linda, he's not off base. The Dixie Chicks are not a tax payer funded event. You just don't get it. My tax dollars don't fund the Dixie Chicks. They funded a State Fair, with lots of kids present, where this BS happened.

Craig Mitchell
Craig Mitchell

Not SNL. Not a commercial rodeo. Not your backyard family gathering. Nope. A State Fair. Funded by my tax dollars, and yours.

Jenny Sandifer
Jenny Sandifer

Holy crap. How many flippin' stories/updates on this story are they going to post?

Craig Mitchell
Craig Mitchell

To the people who say "Overboard," I offer you this. And don't stop reading with my first statement because I'm going to contradict it. Every president gets lambasted, and burned in effigy. That's not the point. I am outraged not because of racism, or because I'm an Obama worshiper either. (I wish we had a stronger president.) I'm outraged because it happened at my State Fair, with my tax-payer dollars funding it. Not to mention all the children present... Do this at your commercial rodeo where you're charging $15 at the gate. But do it at my State Fair where my tax dollars are funding it, and you've crossed the line.

laxx1559
laxx1559

@chas.manson Simulated violence against the president is their greivance, it's not in any right.  

chas.manson
chas.manson

@jbrandt49 Because if this were a white president being made fun of, they would by silent.   The joke is in the hypocrisy. 

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