LEXINGTON, Kentucky (AFP) — Two men faced criminal charges Thursday for hanging an effigy of Barack Obama from a tree with a noose, the latest in a string of racially tinged incidents targeting the man who hopes to be the first black president.
The effigy hung at the University of Kentucky Wednesday was seen as particularly offensive because it was reminiscent of the lynchings that once took place in the former slave state.
Its discovery prompted strong rebukes from the Kentucky governor and university president, an apology letter sent to Obama by the Lexington mayor on behalf of the city's residents, and a campus forum.
The two men who turned themselves in to campus police said the effigy was hung in response to the highly publicized effigy of Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin hung from the roof of a California home.
Four students at a small Christian college confessed to hanging an Obama effigy from a tree in Oregon last month, while homeowners in Indiana, Ohio and California have also used Obama effigies as Halloween decorations.
Meanwhile, two white supremacists remained jailed in nearby Tennessee for threatening to kill Obama during a "killing spree" of more than 100 African-Americans.
And in late August, the alarm was also raised when it was revealed three men were arrested with a weapons cache in Denver, Colorado, where the Democratic party convention was being held. US attorneys later said there had been no credible threat against Obama.
Obama said Monday he was not worried about the threats to his life, saying that hate groups have been marginalized by his candidacy.
"I think what's been striking about this campaign is the degree to which these kind of hate groups have been marginalized. That's not who America is. That's not what our future is," Obama told Pennsylvania television station KDKA after the Tennessee arrests were announced.
"What I've found is that people here, they don't care what color you are. What they're trying to figure out is who can deliver," Obama said.
In the Kentucky incident, Joe Fischer, 22, a University of Kentucky student and Hunter Bush, 21, of Lexington were charged with burglary, disorderly conduct and theft.
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