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Jeweler accused of racism, threatened over 'take a knee' billboard

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A jewelry store in Massachusetts has caused a stir by putting up a billboard that references the protests from NFL players who take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Massachusetts jeweler is taking some serious heat for a billboard referencing the kneeling of NFL players protesting during the playing of the national anthem.

What does it say?

Scott Garieri, owner of Garieri Jewelers in Sturbridge, recently put up a billboard showing a man proposing to his sweetheart on a football field. The message on the ad reads: "If you're going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!"

"That's what we do. We sell engagement rings," Garieri told WBZ-TV.

Garieri went on to say that he thought the message was clever and didn't mean any harm.

"We didn't even think, we just thought, well, a good play of words," he explained.

What happened next?

But the billboard has caused quite a stir. Critics on social media have threatened to urinate on the store's sidewalks, puke on their showcases, and one even told Garieri's daughter, Alexandria O'Brien, to kill herself.

According to O'Brien — who manages the store — they began receiving negative social media comments after Rev. Laura Everett posted a picture of the billboard on Facebook and Twitter.

Everett is the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and commented in her tweet: "It's stunning to flip the NFL BLM protests, and turn it into a racist marketing opportunity. Poor form @GarieriJewelers."

What did the jewelry owner say?

Garieri defended the ad to the Telegram, saying, "I stand behind it 100 percent. It was not ever made to make any racist connotation to it. We took a play of words and put a little spin on it."

He went on to say that he disagrees with the athletes who have been protesting by taking a knee while "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays at sporting events.

"What they're doing is disrespecting the national anthem," he told the Telegram.

"We have veterans that have fought hard and gave their lives so these people have the right to cry about my billboard. When you disrespect the national anthem, you disrespect my country, and I take offense to that. There are ways to fight racial inequalities. To me, that's not the way to do it."

Garieri said the billboard will remain standing throughout the football season.

Anything else?

This isn't the first time one of Garieri's billboards has raised eyebrows. In 2017, the store put up an ad that read: "Make her speechless...for a change," which one of many critics called "sexist, demeaning, and insulting toward women."

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