Revolution time

Rouse & Revolt faces big-time blowback for political sign

I’ve been watching with great interest—and clenched teeth—as the community has reacted to the anti-Trump billboard put up by Rouse & Revolt owner Nicholle Haber Lewis. (If you’re not yet familiar with it, I’ve included a visual cue.)

“I feel that this administration is one of the most hateful administrations, and that Trump is a Nazi sympathizer,” Haber Lewis told me during a recent visit to her Garden Walk Mall shop. “I call out hate where I see it.”

Obviously, her statement didn’t go over very well. Stott Outdoor Advertising, which owns the billboard space, took down the image less than 24 hours after putting it up. The whole thing has caused quite an uproar, with Stott saying that the name of the business appeared to be a call to action and Haber Lewis threatening to sue over breach of contract. (Please note, that as a private company, Stott is not in violation of the First Amendment by pulling down the billboard.)

As a business owner, Haber Lewis took a risk by getting political. She knew her billboard would ruffle feathers, that it would get people talking, that it would probably anger some people to the point of not supporting her business.

“I expected people to vote with their dollars,” she said. (A quote accompanying one of her store’s Facebook posts—a benign one for jeans—reads, “Every dollar you spend is a vote you cast for the world you want.”—L.N. Smith.)

It’s gone far beyond that, though, to the point of harassment. “They’ve been relentless. They’ve called the police to say we’re dealing drugs out of the store—but we’re not. They found out where I live and threatened to kick me out of town. They’ve brought my Yelp and Google reviews down to one star—but with lies.”

I read Paradise Post Editor Rick Silva’s column on the matter, in which he says, “When you make that accusation [of being like Hitler] you are saying that the supporters of any such president would endorse the mass murder of 9-10 million people.” He also says, “Now when businesses decide to wade into such matters, it had better be prepared to deal with the blow back.”

Poor grammar aside, that message from a newspaperman surprises me—does Silva really take Haber Lewis’ billboard so literally? And does he realize that the blowback she’s received has been so extreme as to involve death threats?

For those who choose to support Haber Lewis and Rouse & Revolt, she says she is creating a whole line of products with that billboard image and others that are less in-your-face, and that 100 percent of the profits will go to Puerto Rico. She’s also asking that if anyone wants to allow her to rent space—in shop windows, on warehouse walls, you name it—she’d love to plaster billboards all around town. She’s starting with her own store windows, which have been equipped with video surveillance.

Let’s play nice, Chico. Let’s talk about the issue rather than react like bullies.