A gunmaker company in Florida is refusing to back down in the face of criticism stemming from a controversial ad that took aim at antifa — or anti-fascist — protesters.
Last week, the Apopka-based Spike’s Tactical posted a photo to its Facebook page showing four men — all of them wearing ballistic vests — holding up their weapons as a crowd of protesters approaches. The ad also ran in print.
“Berkeley, Portland, Charlottesville, Boston,” reads the text on the image, referring to cities where antifa protests have taken place. “Not Today Antifa.”
The advertisement — created to promote an upcoming show in Las Vegas — was produced in collaboration with a Texas-based apparel retailer called Pipe Hitters Union, according to TheBlaze.
Despite criticism that Spike’s Tactical is promoting violence against protesters, the company does not see it that way, emphasizing that it has no plans to apologize for the controversial ad.
“Our advertisement, NOT TODAY ANTIFA, is meant to be pro-American and against those who would suppress freedom of speech and the rest of our constitutionally protected rights, including the right to bear arms,” company spokesman Kit Cope said in a statement last week.
“We offer zero apologies to anyone that is offended by this advertisement that depicts armed, but peaceful, patriotic Americans standing up against socialist, anarchist and communist rioters.”
WARNING: The following post contains profane language that some viewers may find offensive.
Elaborating further to Vice News, the company said it would not apologize because it has not done anything wrong.
“We apologize to no one. If we were to make an apology, that would suggest that we have done something wrong or regret our actions, which is not the case,” the statement read.
In addition to defending its ad, Spike’s Tactical has called out those they “triggered,” including the writer at Newsweek who wrote a story about the advertisement.
“For the snowflakes and writer at Newsweek that we triggered with massive amounts of butthurt yesterday, here’s a lower we made just for you. The Spike’s Snowflake,” the company wrote om its Facebook and Instagram pages, attaching an image of an AR-15 lower that has a colorful unicorn drawn on it.
Newsweek’s article had claimed that the gun company “is using anger over antifa to sell dangerous assault rifles to only one side.”
According to Cope, though, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We would never advocate violence, unless it is in the form of self-defense,” said Cope. “And for the record, our rifles are available for sale to any responsible person who is legally allowed to own a firearm, regardless of how they register to vote.”
In an interview with WFTV, Cope noted that the company absolutely does not sympathize with white supremacists or racists.
“We are absolutely anti-bigotry, anti-racism — all of those things are very anti-America,” Cope said. “We are very pro-America, pro-law enforcement (and) pro-military.”
And despite the controversial nature of the ad, Cope indicated the company wanted to make people think.
“We wanted it to bring up thoughts, feelings, that can be discussed,” he said. “We’re just trying to start a discussion.”
But not everyone agrees with that sentiment.
“Violence,” Apopka resident Cynthia Flexer said of the ad. “That’s all I can say. Violence and hate.”
The clothing company featured in the ad — Pipe Hitters Union — has also refused to apologize.
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