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|Atlanta's Baton Bob says he was physically threatened, called anti-gay slur|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Thursday, 14 June 2012 09:51|
Baton Bob, the self-proclaimed "Ambassador of Mirth" known for wearing tutus and other costumes while twirling a baton on the streets of Atlanta, said he was accosted Wednesday afternoon by a man who called him a "damn faggot."
Baton Bob, 60, also known as Bob Jamerson, created the Baton Bob character 11 years and for the past several years has been sighted all over Atlanta dancing and strutting in his outrageous costumes with a baton in hand and a whistle hanging around his neck. He has also become a popular sight at neighborhood festivals as well as the Atlanta Pride parade. He recently introduced a new character, Shake-a-Bag Bob who shakes pom poms rather than twirling a baton.
But on Wednesday afternoon as he was "spreading joy" with his baton as he likes to say, a man approached him, called him a "damn faggot" and threatened to kill him.
"I've never had this kind of incident of this magnitude on the streets in the 11 years I've been performing as this character," Jamerson said Thursday morning.
"It was the first time I've taken Baton Bob out on the streets in awhile and this guy started taunting me from the parking lot of a service station across the street from Showcase.
"And after I crossed the street he came up to me and got in my damned face screaming. I started blowing my whistle like a banshee," he said. "I told my partner I'm going to have to buy a gun — that's how unbelievable it was. I couldn't believe he had the audacity to pull this kind of stunt in the middle of the day."
Jamerson said he's had encounters with this person before but not in such a hostile manner.
"I was so mad I couldn't see straight. He said I was a damn faggot and to get my nasty ass off the street. It was a death threat. I was just stunned, literally stunned," Jamerson said. Jamerson said he eventually walked away to keep entertaining.
Numerous witnesses saw the incident at the corner of Cheshire Bridge Road and Lavista Road Jamerson said, and Jamerson said he asked someone from Showcase to call the police. The Atlanta Police Department was called Wednesday and an officer responded to the scene but Jamerson was not at the location, said spokesperson Carlos Campos. The LGBT liaisons have also been notified of the incident and are seeking to speak to Jamerson, Campos added.
Jamerson said he planned to file an official police report with the APD today.
"This shocked my consciousness but he will not prevail. He will not deter me," he said but added he plans to take more safety precautions when he takes his performance to the streets.
"I have never had someone unnerve me like this man did," Jamerson said. "I know there are assholes out there. Sometimes my spirit just pulls them out of the woodwork for the wrong reason."
But his fans are speaking out on the alleged incident, taking to Twitter to show support.
"The positive side to this is my real true fans are speaking out against it. I am damned determined to make this a non-issue. I will not tolerate this behavior from anyone," Jamerson said.
Baton Bob was created 11 years ago in St. Louis, Miss., and was a popular character there, too. Several years ago he relocated to Atlanta where he's become a beloved character who even appeared in an ad campaign for the Georgia Aquarium.
He is currently working on a one-man show about Baton Bob that is set to open Aug. 10 at Park Tavern. The show will explain how the character came to be as well as honor his mother who had a large collection of hats. The hats will be part of the many costume changes Baton Bob will make during the show, he said.
UPDATE: From APD spokesperson Carlos Campos:
"Officer Sharp, one of our LGBT liaisons, was able to make contact with Mr. Jamerson today. He encouraged Mr. Jamerson to visit Zone 2 at his convenience to file a police report concerning this incident. Once we fully understand from Mr. Jamerson what transpired, we can determine the
Top photo: Baton Bob at this year's MLK March. (by Dyana Bagby)
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