A veteran of the 101st Airborne Division was kicked out of an Indianapolis zoo due to his “offensive” hoodie, which bore a picture of a 9mm cartridge and the phrase, “Just The Tip, I Promise.”
Anthony Edmonson was heading to the Indianapolis Zoo’s dolphin exhibit when he was approached by a zoo employee and told to remove his hoodie.
“I never found anyone who took offense to that hoodie,” Edmonson told the Indy Star. “I wear that hoodie on a daily basis. One hundred percent of the time, most people think it’s a hilarious joke. Somebody probably didn’t understand that it was a picture of a bullet. That, or they’re very anti-gun.”
The 31-year-old veteran -who served in the 101st Airborne Division- had gone undisturbed for over two hours before he was stopped. According to the employee, another zoo-goer had filed a complaint, and that it fell under the zoo’s dress code policy as “sexual innuendo.”
“Offensive language or graphics on clothing are not appropriate at a family gathering spot like the zoo,” Indianapolis Zoo spokeswoman Judy Palermo said, noting that the zoo is a private business. “This guest was kindly given an opportunity to stay in the Zoo as long as he covered up the wording on his sweatshirt or removed the clothing or turned it inside out. He chose not to.”
For Edmonson, the issue was one of free speech.
“They said they got a complaint about my shirt and asked me to remove it and I refused,” Edmonson said. “Because it was my First Amendment right for freedom of speech.”
Ultimately, Edmonson was asked to leave, and posted an account of the incident to social media, where it was shared well over 1,000 times.
Within hours, he was bombarded by negative comments.
“It was so negative,” he said. “A lot of people seemed to not like it. People were just so sheltered and they don’t understand it. I gave up trying to understand people. Other than that, I really don’t care. It’s not affecting my life any. I never really cared what people thought about it in the first place.”
For Edmonson, the issue wasn’t that it happened, but why everyone was so upset.
“I was just shocked that it went as far as it did,” he said. “I never thought it was going get this kind of attention.”
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