Alleged anti-Obama parade float causing Huntsville grief
Police • Gun reference an exercise of "free speech," but Secret Service was notified.
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A Huntsville Fourth of July parade float has sparked controversy because of a poster on the back of a limousine that could be interpreted as a threat to the U.S. president's life.

According to Huntsville Mayor Jim Truett, his office has been fielding numerous complaints since Wednesday about the float, and its apparent anti-Obama message.

Participants in the parade entry dressed in suits to mimic President Barack Obama and Secret Service officers. One member of the float donned an Obama face mask.

One sign on the side of the limousine read, "Huntsville welcomes the Obama farewell tour?" and another, on the rear of the vehicle, read, "Ask about our assault gun plan!" Then in smaller letters: "Call Eric Holder."

Truett said that neither he nor members of the town council knew about the float until hours after the parade had ended. The float was a last-minute entry, according to a volunteer parade organizer Karen Klein

Truett said it would not have been allowed to participate if he or any of the council members had seen it beforehand.

But two Weber County Sheriff deputies were asked by organizers to check and see if the float was violating any laws.

"Deputies concluded there weren't any legal violations and left it at that," Weber County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Klint Anderson said. "It appears it was just someone exercising free speech. The Secret Service was notified and they are looking into it. Their concern is if this constitutes a threat against the president."

Parade participants are supposed to fill out entry forms. However, Truett said, in the parade's more than 60-year history, same-day entry has been permitted.

"This is going to be a learning lesson for the town," Truett said. "[In the future] all entries will have to have an entry form, and they will have to be inspected before the parade."

Truett said the parade attracts more than 8,000 spectators each year. He sees the entire day's events as a family-friendly atmosphere and a great place to celebrate Independence Day.

"We probably had 200 people come up to us and tell us what a beautiful day it was," Truett said. "To have one negative thing impact the day is just awful."

mappelgate@sltrib.com