A campaign billboard in Polk County, Tennessee, is causing a political storm and gaining national attention.
The sign appeared off Highway 411 near Benton and read “Make America White Again.” Independent candidate for the state’s 3rd Congressional District seat, Rick Tyler, is responsible for the sign.
Tyler maintains he does not hate people of color, but that he 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.”
But many residents are uncomfortable with the sign, saying it does not reflect the views of the entire country, demanding it be removed.
After taking down the sign on June 21, Tyler defended the billboard, saying, “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,” added Tyler.
When WRCB asked Tyler if he feared for his safety, he responded, “I don’t fear it. I welcome it, and I will respond with the application of truth.”
Tyler then put up a second billboard on Highway 64 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” quote written over a White House surrounded by Confederate Flags.
Tyler’s neighbor, Jimmy Johnson, told the New York Daily News the second sign was also taken down within hours because residents complained.
“Thankfully it’s down but there’s actually a lot of people who support him and are willing to vote for him as well,” Johnson told New York Daily News.
Tyler, who owns a local restaurant, says he was inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to create the slogan for his campaign in a post on his website, which has since been removed.
“Clearly we are in uncharted waters, in that there has never been a candidacy like this in modern political history. Of great significance, as well, is the reality of the Trump phenomenon and the manner in which he has loosened up the overall spectrum of political discourse,” Tyler wrote, according to WTVC.