'Squad' lawmakers targeted in gun shop billboard
A gun store in North Carolina erected a billboard warning of "The 4 Horsemen," featuring four minority lawmakers' faces.
The sign featuring "the squad" was drawing attention online.
The yellow sign reads: "The 4 Horsemen" with the word Cometh crossed out and beneath it written "are Idiots." It was signed "the Deplorables."
Cherokee Guns, a store in Murphy, North Carolina, took credit for the sign and promoted it on their Facebook.
"I'm not inciting any violence or being racist," a man who described himself as the owner of Cherokee Guns and identified himself only as "Doc" told the Asheville Citizen-Times. "It's a statement. It's an opinion."
The sign, which directed viewers to the store a mile away, comes after President Donald Trump rallied Republican supporters in North Carolina in July, harshly criticizing the four fiery, left-wing congresswoman of being un-American and claiming they are now the face of the Democratic Party.
As people began to notice the photos of the billboard circulating online, owners issued a statement saying there were many requests for stickers of the billboard.
"Alright my fellow Infidels for Trump...due to OVERWHELMING demand...you may come by the shop (next week) and get your very own FOUR HORSEMEN COMETH STICKER...simple...eat a piece of bacon...tell us you're voting for Trump in 2020...then get your limited edition bumper sticker!! (While supplies last!) Snowflakes and Liberals are not eligible...sorry..." the store wrote on Monday.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib responded Wednesday on Twitter, saying, "How the hell is this not inciting violence?"
Others agreed the billboard encouraged gun violence against Tlaib from Detroit, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Pressley also called out the billboard on Twitter, saying, "#Racist rhetoric from the occupant of the White House has made hate our new normal. We are still vulnerable."
She mentioned U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, whose district houses the shop, saying "do the right thing."
"Cherokee Guns is in your district & you and I serve on a committee together. Here’s your chance to finally do the right thing," Pressley tweeted.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence called the billboard "violent rhetoric."
"Disgusting anti-government violent rhetoric from Cherokee Guns in North Carolina," they said in a Facebook post. "Threats against members of Congress, particularly minority members are (increasing) and it is driven by the president’s racial rhetoric. This is dangerous!!!"
Cherokee Guns has a history of placing controversial signs to attract attention to the store. In March, the store placed a similar sign, saying: "CHEROKEE COUNTY IS A GUN SANCTUARY. DON'T LIKE IT??? STATE LINE IS JUST AHEAD!"
In 2017, the shop was criticized as Islamophobic for a sign reading "INFIDEL ARMAMENT" in block letters above Arabic script and a rifle. Two years before, the shop put up a billboard that said, "Give me your tired, your poor . . . Keep your Syrian refugees," the Asheville Citizen-Times wrote.
"I think in some cases they hate our country," Trump said to the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to win again next year.
Trump was also criticized for tweeting that the Democratic congresswomen of color should "go back" to their home countries – though three were born in the U.S.
While some online said the billboard wasn't inciting violence and was an act of free speech, women like Tlaib, Omar and others said they have felt targets on their backs since being elected.
Tlaib called on Trump in the past to condemn white supremacists after attacks on two mosques in New Zealand and in June, she became emotional during a U.S. House hearing as she read from one of the death threats that her office received.
In April, Partrick Carlineo Jr. of New York man was charged with threatening to shoot and kill Omar at her offices in Washington, D.C. Carlineo told the FBI that he was a patriot, “loves the president and that he hates radical Muslims in our government,” the criminal complaint says.
The civil rights organization Muslim Advocates disagreed, saying the billboard shouldn't be treated as free speech.
"There are already multiple credible assassination threats & attempts on these officials," Muslim Advocates tweeted. "The media is irresponsibly downplaying this and calling it 'mocking' In an age of white nationalist attacks and rampant gun violence, *this is not a joke.*"