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Fried chicken restaurants under fire for Obama name
NEW YORK -- Two New York City fried chicken restaurants in predominantly black neighborhoods are under fire for putting President Obama's name on their signs.
City Councilman Charles Barron said Friday that he will organize a demonstration next week outside Obama Fried Chicken in his Brooklyn district. Organizers said they also may target 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.
The person working the counter said the owner was not available and would not say when the sign had been changed. Employees, however, still were answering the phone by saying "Obama's."
At Obama Fried Chicken in Brooklyn, the person who answered the phone said the owner could not be reached.
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.
McCall said the owner promised the sign would change Sunday. If it doesn't, McCall and Barron say they will rally on Monday.
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.