A jewelry store in Massachusetts has come under fire after their billboard showing a man proposing to a woman on the football field was called racist.
The billboard advertising Garieri Jewelers in Sturbridge, Mass., reads: “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!” The billboard, which was located on Route 20 in Charlton, was set up on Saturday.
Scott Garieri, the owner of the store, said the advertisement was meant to be “attention-getting” and was a “play on words” regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, racial inequality and other issues. President Trump has been a vocal critic of the protests.
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“It was intended to be attention-getting,” Garieri told Boston 25 News.
“The way that the football season was, everyone had a thing about taking the knee,” he told the Washington Post.
He said the reactions to the billboard were at first positive until one driver, traveling down Route 20, took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook, calling it racist.
“Someone saw it, pulled in off Route 20 and took a picture of it and then went off about how racist it is,” Garieri told Boston 25 News. “Then they started attacking us, they wanted to come in and vomit on the [jewelry] cases, they were going to urinate on our sidewalks.”
Comments flooded into social media including one that said Garieri’s daughter, Alexandria, who manages the store, should kill herself.
“That’s when it started to get out of hand,” Garieri said.
“We want to sell engagement rings. We’re selling love, not hate,” Alexandria Garieri told the Washington Post. “We were never wanting to be offensive, it was always meant to be satirical.”
The controversial ad by Nike featuring Kaepernick aired just a few days after the billboard was put up.
“I’m a firm believer in respecting the country, respecting the flag, respecting the national anthem,” Garieri said.
Garieri said the billboard was staying up despite the backlash.
“It wasn’t meant to be racist, business is business,” he said.
Earlier this year, NFL players reportedly whined about Colin Kaepernick and blasted league owners during a rare face-to-face meeting last October amid widespread public criticism over a race-baiting national anthem protest movement over fictional racial bias by the police, that was started by the ex-49ers quarterback.
In a room at NFL headquarters in New York City, the players, who sat in alternating seats with the league’s 30 owners at a large table, demanded to know why Kaepernick was, they believed, being blackballed, as if the answer wasn’t obvious.
The quarterback has not taken the field in an NFL game since the 2016 season, when he began kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner to protest imaginary police brutality against African-Americans, reports Fox News.
“I feel like he was hung out to dry,” Eric Reid, a former teammate of Kaepernick who has also kneeled, told the room, according to the New York Times. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us. Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
Retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin also said the owners needed to let “people know it’s not just the players that care about these issues, but the owners, too.”
Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long added: “we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.”
What the players either intentionally ignore or simply are oblivious to, is the fact that black Americans are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes in the United States, and that by percentage of population, whites are actually more likely to be shot by the police. This indisputable fact negates their entire argument.
In an audio recording of the meeting obtained by the New York Times, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was quoted as saying that fighting for social justice doesn’t revolve around one person.
Other owners, such as the Houston Texans’ Bob McNair, were more blunt, telling the players to end the protest.
“You fellas need to ask your compadres, ‘Fellas, stop that other business, let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results,’ and we’ll help you,” he said, according to the newspaper.
Following the meeting, the league issued a statement that was less contentious than the words being exchanged in the New York office.
“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities,” it said. “NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.”
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 10th, 2018