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Murphy, North Carolina July 2019 – Steve ‘Doc’ Wacholz owner of ‘Cherokee Guns’ in Murphy, North Carolina paid for an inflammatory billboard and stickers advertising his gun shop. Using (presumably without their permission) photos of Congresswomen, comparing them to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and calling them ‘idiots’ – the billboard advises that the gun shop is one mile away.
The congresswomen are Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Some of them such as Rep Tlaib had previously received death threats which were highly publicised at the time. Still this gun shop is ridiculing them, showing their pictures – and advertising that you can get a gun and rounds from the shop a mere mile away. As Rep Tlaib succinctly put it, “How the hell is this not inciting violence?”
Above: one of many bigoted posts made on Facebook by the shop
The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech: it also has limitations on that speech which exclude inciting violence from the Amendment’s protection. Furthermore, with the NRA attempting to pretend those who sell guns are responsible, mature people – can we trust someone with these views to thoroughly vet those who want deadly weapons?
Further confirmation of Wacholz’s bigotry can be found in a quote appearing in SF Gate (a San Francisco news site), “They’re socialists, from my point of view,” he told the local paper, before adding a bigoted trope. “I also feel a couple of them, being Muslim, have ties to actual terrorists groups.”
In summary, a man selling guns is literally targeting our elected reps, and has said he believes they have ties to actual terrorist groups: this is surely incitement to violence: by someone who can make money by stoking this hatred. Why no legal action has been taken is incomprehensible and unacceptable.
The gunshop’s telephone was not in service when One Pulse tried to speak to them yesterday. The discussion on the shop’s Facebook page is filled with bigoted comments.
Wacholz also inexplicably had a billboard depicting Donald Trump, known for his avoiding the draft due to (curable bonespurs (he played basketball with them), as a muscle-bound action man.
Despite targeting these elected reps who are from a variety of backgrounds and accusing them of having ties to terrorist groups, Wacholz is at pains to paint himself as non-racist, saying “I’m not inciting any violence or being racist,” he added. “It’s a statement. It’s an opinion.”
Many would disagree, witness the comments on Cherokee’s Facebook page, which say that a sticker of the Congresswomen portrayed as ‘idiots’ will go to fans who visit: and eat a piece of bacon – an unveiled hateful jibe at Islamic and Jewish faiths.
The police and DA have failed to take any action despite this overt racism and the billboard. One Pulse for America has contacted the police for an article on the situation, but they have not returned to us yet. One Pulse for America and other gun control groups, civil rights organisations, and observers feel there is a credible possibility the billboard, stickers and actions of Wacholz may result in violence against the four.
As an aside, it is unknown how Steve Wacholz obtained the necessary clearance/permission to use the images of the congresswomen for his commercial purposes. It is true that images of public figures can be used for news purposes without necessarily having to get permissions, but this is a commercial venture, and not one of these women were likely to have agreed to have their images used to promote guns.
Please contact North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper through one of the channels below and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:
I am absolutely disgusted that Steve Wacholz of Cherokee guns in Murphy, NC is engaging in incitement to violence against four sitting Congresswomen – some of whom have already had death threats.
You will surely be aware of the offensive billboard and now stickers picturing Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. As Rep Tlaib succinctly put it, “How the hell is this not inciting violence?”
I demand the police and District Attorney’s Office take immediate action. The First Amendment has known limits, and not only is this clear incitement to violence, but social media posts by Wacholz are actually offering the stickers of the offensive image to people who go to the shop ‘and eat a piece of bacon’ – is this kind of religious intolerance what you want in North Carolina.
Furthermore, with the NRA attempting to pretend those who sell guns are responsible, mature people – can we trust someone with these views to thoroughly vet those who want deadly weapons? Is it time to review Mr Wacholz’s licence to operate a gun shop? In summary, a man selling guns is literally targeting our elected reps, and has said he believes they have ties to actual terrorist groups: this is surely incitement to violence: by someone who can make money by stoking this hatred. You must act!
I will hold Wacholz, the police, the DA and you morally responsible should any violence erupt over this unfortunate, illegal* situation if you do not act swiftly. I am copying in the congresswomen on this message to let them know that I, as a member of gun control group One Pulse for America, stand with them 100% and condemn the bigotry that is allowed in North Carolina. *When I say the poster is illegal, I am not only referring to the incitement to violence, but I am confident the congresswomen did not give their consent for their images to be used in this commercial venture to advertise guns. I certainly hope they will be taking legal action for damages.
I will be watching this situation closely, and suggest that you take action to prevent any further inflammatory bigoted advertising in your state.
Governor Roy Cooper
Email (form): https://governor.nc.gov/contact/contact-governor-cooper
Copy in the congresswoman/women of your choice by following this link: https://www.conginst.org/contact-congress/