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Ohio tire dealer comes under fire for ‘white lives matter, who else would pay for 4 welfare’ sign

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An Ohio business owner has come under fire for displaying a controversial sign outside his tire shop that members of the local community have blasted as racist.

Mike’s Tire, located in Belmont County Bethesda, recently erected a sign outside its shop front along North 26 Road that reads, ‘White lives matter, who else will pay for welfare’.

The sign, which concludes with ‘Trump 2020’, has caused a stir among members of the local community who are pleading with the owner to take it down and apologize.

But Mike, who didn’t offer his second name to local media, says he is simply exercising his right to free speech and said he believes the local community is overreacting.

‘My sign states, “White lives matter, who else will pay for welfare” That is a question, not a statement. It doesn’t have a question mark at the end because I don’t have one to put there,’ Mike told CBSLocal21.

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Mike’s Tire, located in Belmont County Bethesda, recently erected a sign outside its shop front along North 26 Road that reads, ‘White lives matter, who else will pay for welfare. Trump 2020’

Mike, who didn’t offer his second name to local media, says he is simply exercising his right to free speech and said he believes the local community is overreacting

Mike claims he never intended for the sign to be perceived as racist and offered his ‘apologies’ to those who ‘took it and read into it that way’.

The embattled business owner also insisted he’s not a racist person, as he ‘has black customers’.

‘If you want to call it racist, you have that right, but I also have the right to put out on my sign, in my yard, what I want,’ Mike said. 

‘I’m not a racist person, I have black customers, and black people deliver tires to me. I have nothing against them.’

To WTRF, Mike reiterated that the sign is a question ‘if you read it right’. He said, ‘I have worked all my life, I’ve paid into it, and there’s a lot of people around here that have done the same.

‘I put [the sign] up there, I’ll be taking it down sometime next week. And then when I put something up for the veterans I hope you react the same.’

Mike also told the network that the ‘racist stuff is just twisting and turning [of his words].’

‘They need to grow up a little bit,’ Mike said of his critics. ‘The last time I put something up, not damn one word was said about it.’

Mike claims he never intended for the sign to be perceived as racist and offered his ‘apologies’ to those who ‘took it and read into it that way’. The underfire business owner also insisted he’s not a racist person, as he has ‘black customers’

Belmont County NAACP President Jerry Moore says the sign should be taken down, because not only does he think it’s offensive, he says it also promotes false information.

‘We actually all pay for welfare recipients to receive their benefits,’ Moore said. ‘When you just take “facts” out of thin air and put them on a billboard and call them facts, when they are your opinions, that becomes a problem.’

Moore added: ‘I’m not sure if he did it as a publicity stunt to boost his business or this is how he felt.

‘Belmont County doesn’t need this, we don’t need these kinds of stereotypes and behaviors as a whole,’ he continued.

Mike, meanwhile, said the reaction to the sign has been ’50/50’, adding he’s received numerous phone calls, some from customers offering support, others from members of the community offering him choice words.

‘If it hurts it, that’s the way it has to be, I’ll just have to deal with it,’ Mike said of the potential financial implications the sign could have on his business.

Facebook users have already taken to Mike’s Tire’s official business page to leave negative reviews, and also call for the owner to take the sign down and ‘keep his racist views to himself.

‘Obviously uneducated and ill informed to facts making him the perfect Trumpanzee.’ Doug Alderman wrote.

Facebook users have already taken to Mike’s Tire’s official business page to leave negative reviews, and also call for the owner to take the sign down and ‘keep his racist views to himself

‘Mike could stop being a horrible racist,’ added Bridget Taylor. ‘Mike could stop embarrassing the town of Bethesda with his ridiculous sign. Mike could get an education on how to be a decent human. Mike could realize that the world is smaller than he thinks and people notice this. Mike’s customers should be aware that others WILL KNOW if you frequent this business and support racism. At least Mike honestly tied racism and trump together.’

Comments lambasting Mike have also been posted to old customer reviews.

In one such post, a former customer wrote: ‘Love the prices and the quality of his work also his greeting committee.’

Greg Sullivan responded to the November 2018 post asking if by welcoming committee she meant ‘The klan?’

The sign has been outside of Mike’s story for nearly three weeks, but only recently started gaining attention.

Mike said even prior to the backlash, he planned to replace the sign with one honoring veterans later this week, ahead of Veteran’s Day on November 11.

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