Apes With Afros? Loveland Politico on Controversial Photo, Recall Bid

Don Overcash's official portrait for Loveland City Council and an Afro wig similar to ones seen in a controversial 2019 photo.EXPAND
Don Overcash's official portrait for Loveland City Council and an Afro wig similar to ones seen in a controversial 2019 photo.
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The official portrait of Loveland City Council member and mayoral candidate Don Overcash is very different from the image of him that spent nearly two years on the Loveland Chamber of Commerce Facebook page — one that captured what's alternately described as "Tarzan and His Ape Band" or "Don and his Monkey Band."

In the pic, City Councilor Dave Clark is Tarzan, clad in a wig whose wavy, light brown locks hang past his shoulders. Surrounding him are a flirtily clad Jane and four other white people, including Overcash, mugging for the camera wearing Afro wigs. He's one of the two people holding a bongo drum. (Also in the frame are Loveland city manager Steve Adams and economic development manager Kelly Clark.)

Does the image equate Black people with monkeys — one of the oldest and most repulsive racial stereotypes of the past few centuries? In an email exchange with Westword, Overcash dodges this question in a response that essentially suggests there's nothing to see here, and that's certainly the case now. The photographer in question turned down Westword's request to reproduce the image, and after we reached out to Overcash, the shot was removed from the Chamber of Commerce address where it had been since its original publication on July 1, 2019.

But Overcash, the two-term Loveland Ward IV representative (he was first elected in 2015) and mayor pro tem who's currently the only announced mayoral candidate, still faces hurdles on his way to the city's top political job.

On April 9, the Loveland Reporter-Herald highlighted a group called Citizens United to Recall Don Overcash. In the article, attorney and former Loveland City Council member Troy Krenning, identified as the organization's representative, makes no mention of the photo in the reasons why Overcash should be ousted. Instead, he characterizes Overcash's announcement of not-yet-public information about plans to launch an In-N-Out Burger in the city as "the final straw."

"Overcash, regardless of who his competition will be, uses his seat as a councilor to gain access to information that no other candidate has access to unless they’re on the council. People are just fed up, and enough is enough," Krenning told the paper. He also mentioned alleged friction between Overcash and fellow councilmembers and Mayor Jacki Marsh, as well as basic ineptitude, as reasons for his group's opposition to Overcash.

Krenning didn't respond to multiple outreach efforts from Westword, and a click on the group's Facebook address triggers the following message: "This Content Isn't Available Right Now."

For his part, Overcash shrugs off any opposition, "The recent organization to recall me was started by opponents to my mayoral campaign," he says. "They are upset and jealous that we have raised small-sized donations from hundreds of local Loveland residents who are inspired by my vision of Unite Loveland for Our Future. Loveland voters are tired of Washington, D.C., cynical politics. The recall effort is a prime example of cynical politics that local voters reject. As my father once told me, 'When your opponents start attacking and lying about you — that is when you know you are doing good things for real people.'"

As for that photo, rather than answer any questions, Overcash chooses instead to discuss the circumstances of its snapping. "In 2019, I was asked to participate in a Dancing With the Stars fundraiser with a professional performer to raise funds for the local Loveland Chamber of Commerce," he notes. "I performed backup music in the song and dance to truly help our community. The theme of the evening was about community, teamwork and creating a better future for Loveland."

He deflects claims by some critics that he is an anti-masker and an anti-vaxxer. "I proudly was vaccinated along with my wife," he says. "We are both pharmacists and have a high degree of trust in the FDA process. I also responsibly wear masks and encourage others to do so."

Likewise, he dismisses controversy over his recent comment to the Reporter-Herald  suggesting that creating a diversity commission for Loveland could be "divisive" — a position that at least one opponent is highlighting in the context of the photo. "I have participated in numerous diversity seminars and meetings throughout my professional career, because I passionately believe that we are all God's children and that there is strength in our diversity," he maintains. "These are the principles that I have lived by for decades both personally and professionally."

And he doesn't sound like he's monkeying around.

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