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    15 Nov 2016

    West Virginia official who called 'Michelle Obama an 'Ape in Heels' fired following outcry


    Officials in an all-white part of West Virginia sparked outrage across America after referring to Michelle Obama as an "ape in heels".
    The mayor of the town of Clay resigned and the director of a local government-funded agency was also removed from her job following the racist comment.
    Pamela Ramsey Taylor, director of the Clay County Development Corp, which provides services to elderly and low-income residents, made the remark on Facebook.
    She was celebrating Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election, and the elevation of Melania Trump to First Lady.
    Taylor wrote: "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." 
    Beverly Whaling, the mayor of Clay, responded on Facebook by saying: "Just made my day Pam." 
    A petition calling for Whaling to be fired had received more than 121,000 signatures as of midday on Tuesday.
    The mayor later resigned
    Jason Hubbard, a member of the Clay town council, issued a statement condemning the "horrific" post and said "racial intolerance isn't what this community is about."
    He apologised on behalf of the town to anyone who was offended, including Michelle Obama. 
    In her own apology the mayor denied her sentiments were racist:
    She said: "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, who has been placed on leave, said she had in “no way” intended to be racist and apologised for "any hurt my post may have caused".
    The official claimed she had been referring to "my personal opinion of the attractiveness (of Mrs Obama) not the colour of the skin”.
    She also claimed the backlash had become a "hate crime against me" and that she and her children had received death threats.  
    Taylor also said she was consulting lawyers to pursue legal action against people who had "slandered" her.
    The town of Clay has a population of 491, none of whom are black, according to latest US Census figures.
    Clay County has 9,000 people and 0.2 per cent of them are black.
    In the recent US presidential election 77 per cent of voters in Clay County 
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