A short stretch of highway east of Kansas City, Missouri, was shut down early Monday while local authorities removed a mannequin wearing a mask of President Barack Obama’s face from an overpass.
The mannequin was spotted along Interstate 70 near Oak Grove, Mo., by drivers who alerted police officers around 5:30 a.m. local time Monday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s office.
Col. Ben Kenney of the Jackson County Sheriff’s office tells msnbc.com that officers removed the dummy shortly after the calls came in, closing down the highway briefly in order to protect motorists from potential debris during the removal, noting that contrary to other reports, there was no specific concern of an explosive device attached to the figure.
The Sheriff’s office is still seeking information on who may be responsible for the incident. Kenney said that no similar mannequins have been reported in the jurisdiction recently.
Some Obama critics have demonstrated for the president’s impeachment on bridge overpasses, but leaders within the movement denounced the move.
“Overpasses For America, formerly Overpasses For Obama’s Impeachment does not condone nor conduct any activity of this sort, and we should not be associated with this,” founder James Neighbors said, in a statement to The Washington Post, adding, “if one of our members were proven to have performed this act, they would no longer be counted in our membership.”
This isn’t the first time an Obama mask has caused a stir in Missouri. Oak Grove is about a half hour drive east of Kansas City, and about an hour west of Sedalia, where a rodeo clown performer made national headlines in August 2013 after he donned an Obama mask during an appearance at the Missouri state fair, prompting an apology from fair organizers.
“The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday’s event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair,” officials said in a statement after the incident.
The man behind that rodeo clown performance, Tuffy Gessling, insisted his decision to wear the mask was not motivated by hate.
A local radio station later named Gessling the “Person of the Year” for 2013 in an online poll.
“I didn’t do this to do any hating on anyone,” he said in an interview with KCTV in late August. “I did it to be funny. I did it to be a joke.”