A sign saying “Make America White Again” has popped up on a billboard along a road in Polk County, Tennessee, but the man behind it insists he is not a racist, WRCB (Chattanooga) is reporting.
— Gawker (@Gawker) June 22, 2016
Another similarly controversial sign, depicting the White House surrounded by Confederate flags and bearing Martin Luther King Jr.s quote “I Have A Dream,” has popped up on nearby Highway 64, also near Benton.
Congressional candidate’s billboard: ‘Make America white again’ https://t.co/5zE9DuaecK pic.twitter.com/81btcEM7v1
— FOX5 Las Vegas (@FOX5Vegas) June 22, 2016
The signs were put up by Rick Tyler, a local businessman and an independent candidate for Tennessee’s 3rd congressional district seat.
It’s not clear exactly when the signs were put up, but drivers making their way along Highway 411 near Benton (about 55 miles from Chattanooga) are not happy about them. Several motorists have telephoned or emailed local news stations, saying the sign doesn’t represent the people of Polk County and that they want it taken down.
Amy Hines Woody of nearby Delano posted her outrage on Facebook.
“I am so enraged I can barely express myself without copious amounts of profanity. This disgusting bunch of bigotry was erected about 20 minutes from our house. The person listed, Mr. Rick Tyler, is a local business owner. He owns/runs the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, TN. Please, if you are the decent and loving people I know you to be, boycott this business. We’ve already complained to the authorities.”
Similarly, the local Kiwanis club has vowed never to patronize Tyer’s business ever again because of the signs, according to a Facebook post.
“Due to recent statements and overtly racist billboards by the principal owner of the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee and himself a declared Independent candidate for Congress, the Kiwanis Club of Ocoee will never meet there again. We are a civic club of inclusion and not exclusion and find these statements repugnant. As a citizen of Polk County, I, Chris Newton, will never personally be back to this establishment.”
For his part, the man behind the signs, Rick Tyler, insists he’s not racist, telling WRCB that he has no problem with “people of color.” Instead, he says, the signs indicate his desire to see American return to a simpler time.
“[A] 1960’s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It To Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.”
Both websites associated with Rick Tyler and his signs — Makeamericawhiteagain.info and Ricktylerforcongress.com — appear to be down as of this writing. However, Gawker obtained a cached copy of the Ricktaylorforcongress.com website, and it appears Tyler’s claims that he is not racist seem to be suspect.
Audio clips posted to the site have titles such as “White Flight,” “White Fright,” “Double Standards,” “The Color of Crime,” and “The Browning of America.” It is unclear if those audio clips are speeches by Tyler himself or by other individuals.
According to Gawker, Tyler’s campaign website also suggested future signs, including “Fight federal tyranny / Stop the Muslim invasion” and “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be miscegenators.”
As is often the case when a business owner makes the news, Tyler’s restaurant, the Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, Tennessee, has taken a hit on Yelp. Prior to today, the White Water Grill had exactly one review — a positive one praising the business’ panini and loaded fries. However, now the restaurant’s Yelp page is flooded with one-star reviews urging people to avoid the business because of the owner’s views.
Do you think Rick Tyler’s “Make America White Again” sign should be taken down?
[Image via Shutterstock/David Hewison]