This is Taylor Sloan of Kansas City, Kansas. He's a photographer, video specialist, and former English teacher who recently put his photography to use in a Facebook post that broke a news story. Although he probably wishes there was no reason for the story to exist in the first place.
Sloan took these two pictures. One was of the bar's name, but the other was the homemade welcome mat outside the bar's doors. It was the jerseys of NFL players Marshawn Lynch and Colin Kaepernick, but in reading the jersey's names, a message was very clear. It read "Lynch Kaepernick."
In response to Sloan's criticism, SNAFU said the jerseys were out front because the bar is run by a veteran with many other veterans in his family (even though the protest by the players has nothing to do with the military). Not mentioned in SNAFU's explanation? Why they chose to lay out the jerseys so it would say "Lynch Kaepernick."
Since SNAFU seemed to miss why people were upset about the jerseys, someone else tried to spell out further that the jerseys appeared to be encouraging lynching. SNAFU's response was to say they have freedom of speech, and by saying the players profited from the jerseys being purchased. Still no word from SNAFU about the racist statement made by the arrangement of the jerseys.
Next, Sloan tried one more time to explain things to SNAFU. "Yes you are expressing your rights, but unlike those players, you are also expressing hate, violence, and continuing American racism under the faux guise of patriotism," Sloan said. "And if you didn't notice those shirts together read "Lynch Kaepernick" then I guess we can give you a stupidity pass."
Finally, SNAFU addressed the real issue at hand, saying, "The way they were displayed was purely out of accident. But once again just like those players some of you think everything has to be about race and Hate." But even if it was all an actual accident, SNAFU didn't bother to change the jerseys, indicating they didn't really mind the message the jerseys were implying.
The story was picked up by Missouri television station KOMU, who talked to SNAFU owner Jason Burle. "It’s not a race thing," he said. "A lot of people want to twist it around to be a race thing." Of course, this ignores the fact that the protests are about race, and his welcome mat promoted a racist message.
Once the story was posted on KOMU's Facebook page, more people weighed in with opinions. Glenda Burle tried to defend Jason Burle, saying that it's not a "race thing" because he's "one of the coolest easy going men youll ever get blessed to meet." But as Lygia Ferragallo pointed out, it's possibly for someone to appear "easy going" and still do something racist.
Someone else tried to blame the controversy on "leftists taking offence" because someone else decided to "exercise their free speech in a different manner." But as the reply pointed out, "No one is trying to suppress the owner's free speech...we're calling out the racist content of his speech. Learn the difference."
After his exchange with Burle on Facebook, Sloan said he does believe that the arrangement of the jerseys may have been accidental. But, Sloan added, "If he honestly didn’t see that, he should change it."
Eventually, Burle made an effort to correct the matter by switching the order of the jerseys. However, based on how long it took to place them in a different order, it's unclear if he did it to correct a mistake, or because of the negative publicity.
In his interview with KOMU, Burle acknowledged the players' right to free speech. "I commend them for what they’re doing, as far as the right [to kneel] goes. I fought for that right,” he said. “The same thing that gives them that right gives me the right to place these out here."
In reporting the story, The Washington Post mentioned some very telling statistics. The article said, "According to data compiled by the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative and released in July, there were 60 lynchings of African Americans in Missouri between 1877 and 1950, making it the state with the second-highest number of lynchings outside of the South." So while Burle may have changed the order of the jerseys, it's important to remember that outrage over a doormat that reads "Lynch Kaepernick" is not without warrant.