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Jeweler’s ‘Take a Knee’ Billboard Brings Controversy, Threats

‘People have said they’re going to urinate on our property, vomit on our showcases.’

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A jeweler in Sturbrigde, MA, put up a billboard referencing controversy over NFL players who “take a knee” when the national anthem is played.

Now Scott A. Garieri, owner of Garieri Jewelers, is dealing with a firestorm of his own, including numerous angry comments on Facebook, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

“People have said they’re going to urinate on our property, vomit on our showcases, and I was told to kill myself,” said Garieri’s daughter, Alexandria L. O’Brien, who is the store manager. 



The billboard pictures a man on one knee proposing to a woman on a football field.

“If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!” it states.

The billboard became contentious when the Rev. Laura E. Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, posted a photo of it on Facebook with the note: “In case we’ve forgotten about racism in New England… It’s stunning to flip the NFL BLM protests, and turn it into a racist marketing opportunity.”

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Garieri said that was not his intent.

“It was not ever made to make any racist connotation to it,” he told the Telegram & Gazette. “We took a play of words and put a little spin on it.”

But he disagrees with the players’ approach.

“When you disrespect the national anthem, you disrespect the country, and I take offense with that,” he told the Telegram & Gazette. “There are other ways to fight racial inequalities.”

The Facebook post drew comments both critical and supportive of the billboard and Garieri Jewelers.

The billboard references the practice of some NFL players, starting with quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, of kneeling during the national anthem to protest police shootings of black men. 

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Nike recently featured a photo of Colin Kaepernick, now a free agent, in a print advertisement with the text: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Read more at the Telegram & Gazette

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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