MACON, Ga. (AP) - Some Macon residents have called for demonstrations and boycotts after the mayor of the middle Georgia city formally reached out to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez with a declaration of solidarity.
Mayor Jack Ellis said the declaration -- sent about two weeks ago by courier -- was a message that local leaders can stand together despite disagreements at the highest reaches of government.
Some local leaders have blasted the mayor's decision to support Chavez -- who is a vocal ally of Iran and Cuba who has called President Bush "the devil."
Former mayoral candidate David Corr said the mayor's comments were "an outrage." And state representative Allen Peake -- a Macon Republican -- said the mayor's action taints the town. He said "We need to be doing things in this community that show the tremendous positives of Macon."
He announced in February that he had converted from Christianity to Islam and was working to legally change his name to Hakim Mansour Ellis. He said he became a Sunni Muslim during a December ceremony in the west African nation of Senegal.