A Missouri gym owner is defending her “stance for tolerance” after her request for a member to stop wearing his pro-President Trump shirt sparked an uproar.
Jake Talbot, a reported Army veteran, posted a short video on Facebook accusing Liz Drew, owner of CDY Gym in Troy, of demanding that he remove his “2016 Trump for President” T-shirt in order to continue working out there.
“The owner Liz came up to me and said that Trump shirt I had on was offensive and said I needed to remove it in order to work out there, and that it is linked to racism,” Mr. Talbot said in the video. “I hate the word, it’s used way too loosely. It’s 2019, get the hell over it, it’s not racism.”
Ms. Drew said Wednesday that she did not give Mr. Talbot an ultimatum but did ask him to stop wearing the shirt because it was making others uncomfortable.
“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 told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“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.
Ms. Drew said she had to delete her gym’s Facebook page because of the onslaught of threats and hateful comments. Before she deleted the page, she wrote a statement defending her actions.
“I am deeply saddened by the amount of hate this event has garnered,” she wrote, a local CBS affiliate reported. “I will personally and publicly continue to defend my stance for tolerance and against hate no matter the financial consequence… Allow me to clarify. I don’t believe our gym should be a political forum for anyone. I want everyone to feel safe and comfortable there. We are all trying to improve ourselves and work hard to change.”
In a separate statement, Ms. Drew apologized for any offense her actions caused.
“I have much respect for all of our service members,” she told a local NBC affiliate. “I regret that some were offended by this misunderstanding. I was simply attempting to ensure that all of my members felt safe and unthreatened.”
Ms. Drew told the Post-Dispatch that at least three people canceled their memberships since the controversy, including Mr. Talbot, but that 10 new members had joined since the video was posted.
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