Rally held against fried chicken joints

April 6, 2009 12:21:28 PM PDT
Two New York City fried chicken restaurants in predominantly black neighborhoods are under fire for putting President Barack Obama's name on their signs. City Councilman Charles Barron organized a demonstration Monday outside Obama Fried Chicken in his Brooklyn district. Demonstrators are also upset over Obama Fried Chicken & Pizza in Harlem.

"People from the community were calling me and saying they were outraged by this racist connection to Barack Obama and fried chicken," Barron said. "If you think that free speech gives you the right to insult and degrade us and stereotype us, then you've got a battle on your hands."

At Obama Fried Chicken & Pizza in Harlem on Friday, the "O" and the "A" had been filled in so that the awning sign read "Bam" instead of the president's name.

Kevin McCall, a community activist who has been working with Barron to organize the protest, said he had spoken with the owner of Obama Fried Chicken, which was Royal Fried Chicken until recently.

The White House did not comment directly on the issue of racial overtones in the New York restaurant names, but spokesman Ben LaBolt said the administration disapproves of using "the president's name and likeness for commercial purposes."

The restaurant controversy is not the first dispute about the first black president's name being linked to a chicken product.

A German food maker was criticized recently for naming a line of frozen fried chicken snacks "Obama Fingers." The product was available only in Germany and was pulled after the company said it became aware of the racial connotation.

Also, Germany's N24 television broadcaster reported this week that one Baden-Baden bakery was celebrating the U.S. president's arrival there with a dark-chocolate "Obama cake." The cake was decorated with miniature NATO flags.

Obama traveled to the German spa town Friday with his wife, Michelle, where he met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the NATO summit.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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