At least four gay bars in Nashville have received flyers featuring the type of assault rifle used in the Pulse nightclub massacre, in what some are calling a form of “targeted hate mail.”
Melvin Brown, owner of Stirrup Sports Bar, found the flyer in the bar’s mailbox last week. Brown said he believes whoever created the piece of mail was intending to send a “very deliberate” threat, reports News Channel 5 Nashville.
The flyers feature the letters “LGBT,” with a picture above each letter. Above the L is a picture of the Statue of Liberty, above the G is a picture of the assault rifle, a bottle of beer is above the B, and a picture of Trump is above the T.
“We live in a post-Pulse world in the LGBTQ community, especially in the bar scene,” Brown told NBC News. “To see somebody send a postcard that had a picture of the weapon used in one of the deadliest assaults in this nation’s history, and one that happened at an LGBTQ bar, and to send that image to LGBTQ bars, to me is not a coincidence.”
The postcard had a “MAGA” stamp on the back of it and has a return address that traces back to an empty lot in downtown Nashville.
Brown also believes the postcard may be trying to provoke a certain reaction prior to this year’s midterm elections. At least three other gay bars received identical flyers.
Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, also believes the flyers were politically motivated, because Stirrup Sports Bar and other gay bars often host voter registration drives.
“This has a very aggressive tone about it,” Sanders told NBC News. “It doesn’t use many words, but it uses a lot of images I think are meant to threaten us. The community’s message back is, ‘Yes this is frightening, but we’re going to turn out and vote regardless.'”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said the department is aware of the incident, but there is no investigation at this time.
The Group American As F*ck, a veteran-owned clothing company that specializes in shirts and jerseys with funny or conservative memes, contacted Metro Weekly to claim credit for the original design, with CEO Shawn Wylde saying the design was meant to be funny.
“For what it’s worth, the image that we created has nothing to do with shootings or hate. It’s quite popular in the pro-Trump gay community,” Wylde notes. “It was created prior to the Pulse Night Club tragedy…. We really hope it wasn’t sent with hateful intent.”
Brown says that if the flyers using that logo were sent to gay bars as some form of threat, rather than in jest, they won’t intimidate people, but will rather “galvanize” them into taking action.
“People will respond in ways that are positive and uplifting, because that’s the way we choose to live our lives,” he said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include comment from the clothing company American As F*ck, which claims credit for the original design.
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