Ken Nicholson and Kelly McCarthy, WRCB, June 23, 2016
A campaign sign in Polk County is stirring up a lot of controversy.
The signs were located off Highway 411 near Benton, and said “Make America White Again.” They were posted by Rick Tyler, an independent candidate in the race for Tennessee’s 3rd congressional district seat currently held by Chuck Fleischmann.
Another billboard depicted the White House ringed with Confederate flags, with the statement “I Have a Dream” a takeoff from the famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech.
Tyler told Channel 3 he has no hatred in his heart for “people of color.” He says the sign’s message is that America should go back to a “1960s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.”
Channel 3 asked Tyler if he feared for his safety or backlash from the campaign sign. He said, “I don’t fear it. I welcome it, and I will respond with the application of truth.” Tyler said on Wednesday he had been receiving death threats.
The sign was taken down less than 12 hours after being put up, but not by Tyler.
The owner of the billboard will not confirm if or why his company removed the signage. Tyler wants it to be put back up, he said he paid for the signs to be there until after the November election.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes said in a statement, “There’s no room for this type of hateful display in our political discourse. Racism should be rejected in all its heinous forms in the Third Congressional District and around the country.”