A gun store in Murphy, North Carolina, erected a violent billboard apparently threatening the lives of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The four freshmen representatives — also known as "the Squad" — are all women of color, and have found themselves on the receiving end of racist attacks from President Donald Trump and other lawmakers.
The billboard first surfaced sometime last week, and features huge, block letters at the top that read “The 4 Horsemen Cometh,” referring to the biblical apocalypse brought on by conquests, war, famine, and death. "Cometh" is crossed out in red, and replaced with “are Idiots;” underneath the lettering are photos of the Squad. The billboard was signed from “the deplorables,” likely in reference to Hillary Clinton’s offhand name for Donald Trump’s supporters during the 2016 elections. At the bottom of the billboard, large, red print noted that Cherokee Guns shop was just a mile away from the sign.
As Vox reports, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence called the sign dangerous, “violent rhetoric,” and Muslim Advocates tweeted that, “In an age of white nationalist attacks and rampant gun violence, *this is not a joke.*” The congresswoman and their supporters have also condemned the billboard as deliberately endangering four minority politicians. Tlaib tweeted, “How the hell is this not inciting violence?” and Pressley tweeted, “Racist rhetoric from the occupant of the White House has made hate our new normal.”
But the owner of Cherokee Guns, Doc Wacholz, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that he doesn’t think there’s anything violent or racist about the billboard, saying it was “an opinion.”
“They’re socialists, from my point of view,” he said. “I also feel a couple of them, being Muslim, have ties to actual terrorist groups.”
This comes just weeks after President Trump told the four women of color to “go back to where they came from,” despite the fact that all of them are citizens of the U.S.
“The Squad" are no strangers to threats. In June, Tlaib teared up while reading a death threat that wrote, “The only good Muslim is a dead one.” In late July alone, a local Pennsylvania Republican Party set up a dartboard with photos of the Squad at the Fayette County Fair, and two Louisiana police officers were fired for implying that Ocasio-Cortez should be shot.
This sign, however, might be finally coming down, according to Allison Outdoor Advertising, the company selling the billboard space to advertisers.
“For all those who has concern over the Cherokee Guns Artwork. The board is coming down,” the company wrote, according to NewsChannel 9. “This Creative never came on managements desk for approval. We understand this is a delicate subject and we greatly apologize for it ever going up.”
The company did not say when the billboard would be coming down.