Last week, Independent Congressional candidate Rick Tyler decided to put up some campaign billboards, and one of them proclaimed his desire to “Make America White Again.” According to Tyler, his campaign platform was inspired by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Rick Tyler is campaigning for Tennessee’s 3rd congressional district, a seat currently held by Chuck Fleischmann.
Another local Rick Tyler campaign billboard took a different take on the “Make America White Again” theme, depicting a picture of the White House surrounded by Confederate flags along with the quote, “I have a dream,” which was made famous by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, an advocate for racial equality in the United States.
The 'Make America White Again' sign was posted by Rick Tyler. https://t.co/6yKL9XLYpe
— News18 (@CNNnews18) June 26, 2016
As WRCBTV reports, Rick Tyler has sworn that his “Make America White Again” campaign slogan isn’t coming from a place of hate. According to the Congressional hopeful, he has no hatred in his heart for “people of color.” Rather, he just wants America to go back to a “1960s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.”
As Rick Tyler said during the interview below, “it’s no coincidence” that during that time of American peace and prosperity, the demographic was very predominantly Caucasian.
Unfortunately for Rick Tyler, plenty of locals were not too happy with his prominent “Make America White Again” billboard, which was located off Highway 411 near Benton. According to a local news station, multiple viewers called or sent messages to the newsroom to make sure it was known that Rick Tyler’s views weren’t representative of the entire county, and that they wanted the controversial “Make America White Again” sign taken down.
Candidate Tyler disagreed.
“I respect their right to have an opinion. I believe the majority of the people in the county like it. I saw people taking pictures beside it right after I posted it.”
Rick Tyler says that he has received death threats since putting up the signs, but that he isn’t afraid and even welcomes the free viral publicity the buzz generated by his “Make America White Again” campaign slogan and billboard.
Some other ads from Tennessee congressional candidate Rick Tyler, the man behind the "Make America White Again" sign pic.twitter.com/ul0EUanQ5K
— Everything TN (@Everything_TN) June 24, 2016
Reportedly, Tyler’s second billboard featuring the Dr. King quote and Confederate flag-surrounded White House, which had been placed on Highway 64, was taken down after less than 12 hours, but not by Rick Tyler or at his request. The billboard company will not confirm details regarding the removal of the “Make America White Again” candidate’s billboard. The owner won’t say if or why it removed the controversial sign, but Rick Tyler wants it put back up. According to Tyler, he paid for the ad space until after election day in November.
“If I could I’d have hundreds of these billboards up across the 3rd District.’
Rick Tyler said in the video above that his “Make America White Again” campaign sign lasted a little longer, and that the billboard owner received five calls about it almost immediately. According to Tyler, four of the five people who called said they were going to be voting for him. He also alleges that the owner’s wife is the one who ordered the removal of the controversial “Make America White Again” billboard, in the wee hours in the morning.
He added that he doesn’t know what happened to the printed vinyl signage, but he wants it back because it is his property. He’s filed a police report in relation to the signage’s disappearance.
— Joel Stephanson (@soundslikejoel) June 26, 2016
@Everything_TN SO EMBARRASSED this racist idiot is from Tennessee!
— Grenata P. Whitson (@FrostyGPW) June 24, 2016
@NYDailyNews Trump has to be smiling ear to ear. This is what he really stands behind, though he's not man enough to say. Truth.
— OMAR S TAINO (@1stCasanovaFly) June 23, 2016
Rick Tyler’s fellow politicians have come out swinging against the controversial “Make America White Again” billboard and the candidate’s campaign platform in general.
According to the Chairman of the Tennessee Republican party, Ryan Haynes, the billboard was a “hateful display.”
“There’s no room for this type of hateful display in our political discourse. Racism should be rejected in all its heinous forms in the Third Congressional District and around the country.”
Chuck Fleischmann, who currently holds the congressional seat that Rick Tyler is hoping to fill by way of his “Make America White Again” campaign, had a few words to say about the billboard as well.
“I totally and unequivocally condemn the billboard and Mr. Tyler’s message and will vigorously fight any form of racism in the 3rd district of Tennessee or anywhere else in the nation.”
— James Torrez (@JamesTorrez_NC9) June 22, 2016
Primary elections in Tennessee will take place on August 4, and the state’s general election will take place on November 8.
What do you think? Were the controversial campaign billboards protected free speech under the first amendment? Does the billboard company have the right to remove hateful signage as it sees fit? Will Rick Tyler’s “Make America White Again” stunt help or hurt him this election cycle?
[Image by Shutterstock]