JUNEAU — A social media post by an Alaska human rights official questioning the appropriateness of a sticker on the back of a truck reading “Black Rifles Matter” has caused an uproar, with Gov. Mike Dunleavy calling for an investigation.
Marti Buscaglia, executive director of the state Commission for Human Rights, said the truck was parked outside the commission’s building in Anchorage.
She said she thought the sticker was racist and posted a picture Thursday on the commission’s Facebook page asking, “In what world is this OK?”
Buscaglia said she used her business card to write a note that was placed on the truck, hoping the owner would call her. The note asked that the truck with the “offensive” sticker not be parked in the lot.
Brent Linegar said when he found the note on his truck he chalked it up to people having opinions.
But he said he was bothered when he learned of the post on the commission Facebook page, which he felt maligned him. Linegar had understood the stickers, which are on several of his trucks, to be about gun safety and “Second Amendment awareness,” he said.
“I was like, man, I can’t let that slide,” he said.
Linegar, who has a plumbing and heating business, posted a picture of the note on his Facebook page and asked if he was missing something: “I thought this sticker was a pro-second amendment statement? Someone tell me if I’m completely wrong!”
He also said there was an email calling the sticker racist. In an interview Friday, Linegar, who said he had been doing general repairs at the building, said Buscaglia wrote the building owner asking that the company be banned from the property.
Buscaglia acknowledges writing an email but said it included a number of complaints about Linegar or his employees. Buscaglia said she told the owner, who wasn’t sure how to respond, that they could hire a different heating and air company.
The commission’s Facebook page has been inundated with comments. Buscaglia took down the initial post, writing on Facebook that it offended many gun owners who saw the post as the commission being against the right to own guns.
“Please know that is not the case,” the new post read. “Our concern was with the connotation of the statement to the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Buscaglia said the commission’s aim is to seek out and eliminate discrimination, and she considered the sticker to be a discriminatory statement. She said she never intended to step on anyone’s constitutional free speech or gun rights.
“I think the line between being protected by the First Amendment and hate speech is very fine,” she said. “And frankly I wasn’t sure which one this was.”
She said, in hindsight, she could have worded the initial post differently. She shared on the commission’s Facebook page Friday Dunleavy’s statement calling for an investigation. She said in an interview that she will co-operate.
Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said by email that a “thorough, fair and impartial investigation is being conducted to ascertain all relevant facts that surround this matter.”
Linegar said he considered the situation hurtful and inappropriate and hoped state officials would “make it right.”
• By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press