A US Army veteran in Missouri is looking for a new gym after the owner kicked him out for wearing a “racist” t-shirt supporting President Donald J. Trump.
Former US Army Staff Sergeant Jake Talbot took to Facebook shortly after he was effectively ejected from CDY Fitness in the city of Troy over the weekend.
“The owner, Liz, came up to me and said my Trump shirt I had on was offensive and that I’d need to remove it in order to work out there, and it’s linked to racism,” he said in a video posted on Sunday. “I freakin’ hate that word, whenever it’s used way too loosely. It’s 2019, get the hell over it, it’s not racism.”
The shirt in question bore the words “Trump for President 2016,” and was, at this point, a historical collectible.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the owner, Liz Drew, took exception to the shirt, despite the fact that Talbot had worn it on multiple occasions.
Despite taking offense to the shirt, Drew claims she did not order Talbot to take it off, but instead, asked him nicely to do so.
“I said, ‘Jake, we’re friends and I love you, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t wear that shirt in the future,'” she recounted, noting that black and hispanic gym-goers had complained about the shirt.
“This was about protecting the comfort level of all members and keeping politics out of my gym. Sadly, it has done just the opposite,” she said.
Following massive backlash by locals and out-of-towners alike CDY gym’s Facebook page was taken down, and several members -including Talbot- canceled their memberships.
Prior to removing the page, Drew made a comment about “hate” in the wake of the incident.
“I don’t believe our gym should be a political forum for anyone,” she said in the now-deleted post. I want everyone to feel safe and comfortable there. We are all trying to improve ourselves and work hard to change. I am deeply saddened by the amount of hate this event has garnered. I will personally and publicly continue to defend my stance for tolerance and against hate no matter the financial consequence.”
As far as Talbot is concerned, however, it was the accusations of racism that really caused him to set the public relations nightmare into motion.
“It’s just the racist part she brought up that I just do not like,” he told local news station KMOV4.
Talbot has since been offered a free one-year membership by a competing gym.
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