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Tennessee Restaurateur Under Fire for Racist Campaign Billboard

People are boycotting his restaurant

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Facebook/Missy McDonald Sherrod‎

Taking a page out of Donald Trump’s phrase book, one candidate for Congress in Tennessee decided it would be a good idea to put up billboards around town sporting the phrase "make America white again."

Rick Tyler, who owns Whitewater Grill and is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, apparently erected the sign this week, which included a URL that redirected to his campaign website, RawStory reported. The campaign signs have since been removed, but Tyler has faced severe backlash online, according to WRCB, and people are now boycotting his restaurant.

The Yelp page for the restaurant currently sports a disclaimer for visitors that reads, in part: "This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their reactions," and says "we will ultimately remove reviews that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than by the reviewer’s own customer experience with the business (even if that means removing points of view we might agree with)."

Comments range from confused to angry to irate. Matthew R. writes:

Gross owner, gross food. Unfortunately this place is owned by a religious nut job, white supremacist, cult follower who's running for Congress.

However, it's a lovely town with friendly people. Just not this person. There are many other places to eat in the area who will gladly treat all peoples with kindness and hospitality.

Geoff P. also weighed in:

The owner of Whitewater Grill, place I have frequented and enjoyed.
Had I known, I would never have patronized this place.
No measure of food quality makes up for the vile hatred he espouses in his quest for political office.

People have also taken to expressing their disgust in comments on the Whitewater Grill Facebook page, though the most recent post from the restaurant is from MarchOne commenter, Billie McGregor, took particular offense at Tyler's stance:

My family was here long before the Revolutionary War and we have served in every armed conflict this nation has been involved since we began. Many of those ancestors were from Warren County, TN and are rolling over in their graves that you are still perpetuating the myth that we are superior over others because of our lighter colored skin. You do not represent the values of modern day enlightened Tennesseans. Crawl back under your rock of disgusting racism and take anyone who believes as you do with you.

Tyler told WRCB that he designed the billboard to make people recall the 1960s "Leave it to Beaver" America that he deemed better than the current one, saying the demographic was "85 percent-plus Caucasian," and that "America’s strength was having a white supermajority." He said he expected the message to go viral; he was not wrong about that. Additionally, the candidate's campaign page displays an illustration of the White House surrounded by Confederate flags, and a page within the site reveals other planned billboard designs, including ones against Muslims, gay marriage, and interracial marriage. It all leaves an awful taste in the mouth.