When the message “Where did the f*gg*ts … Put My Head?” … “I’m Joe McCarthey (sic)” … “I was right.” appeared on the electronic sign outside of Krieger Jewelers located at 200 N. Richmond Street in Appleton, Wisconsin on April 9, residents of the town were outraged.
Jake Woodford, the mayor of Appleton explained to WBAY:
“We’ve received a number of complaints both in the mayor’s office and in other city departments, and it’s an issue that we continue to look into, but like I said, our understanding at this point is the speech on that sign is constitutionally protected. So, in the meantime, we just want to underscore that we believe in treating all people in our community with dignity and respect.”
Woodford also posted a tweet to his Twitter account elaborating while nothing can be done to make the owner, Jamie Boyce, change the sign, the Appleton Police put up near the sign with the homophobic message an electronic sign stating, “Hate Has No Home Here.”
There’s a privately-owned and operated sign in Appleton with some hateful language on it. The sign and the speech are constitutionally-protected, so we put up our own sign nearby: “Hate Has No Home Here”
— Jake Woodford (@jakewoodford920) April 16, 2021
Appleton residents took to Facebook to organize a protest against the hateful message on April 17. The details of the event detailed regarding the protest:
Let’s queer the corner of Richmond and College, and show the owner of this hateful sign who the f*gg*ts really are. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re LGBTQ+ or not. Rainbow flags and feather boas encouraged. And masks are common decency.
When contacted by WBAY, Boyce claimed he was referring to a line from Saturday Night Live about Joe McCarthy, former United States senator from Wisconsin, and his stance on communism. Boyce also added:
“I feel very badly that my words were mistaken. I meant to make humor in the nature of Saturday Night Live. These people coming against me have evil in their hearts. I’ve talked to them, and they shake, they can’t handle themselves, and then the police department puts up its sign to encourage this against me. This is very scary, ladies and gentlemen. It’s very scary.”
On the afternoon of April 16, Boyce changed the message on the sign to “If you care what you think, you are sick. If you care what I think, it’s evil upon you.”
The protest on Saturday, April 17 was attended by approximately 150 people according to the Appleton Post Crescent with many waving pride flags and carrying signs that said “Love is love” and other affirming messages.
The Post Crescent also reported that this was not the first time Boyce posted a controversial message on the sign outside his building. In 2015, the sign flashed three statements “I conduct phony protests,” “I burned the city,” and “I aid the enemy” with pictures of President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. alternating between each statement.