Controversial sign outrages some, management defends - WNCN: News, Weather

Controversial sign outrages some, management defends

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LaGRANGE, Ga. - A controversial gas station sign is raising eyebrows in LaGrange. New 3's Naomi Keitt talked to some community members who are upset about the gay slur used on the sign.

When Amy Simpson walked into the PCA food store on Hogansville Road earlier this week, she was shocked by what she saw.

"I mean it's slammed in my face the way it was all set up in the store. You wanted to buy something and it was right there."

A sign telling customers to keep their pants pulled up also used a gay slur. Simpson identifies herself as a lesbian and say she hadn't seen anything like that before.

"I want to be treated as a human being. I don't want to be earmarked as there goes that queer or anything like that," said Simpson.

Anil Patel, manager of PCA, says the sign was not meant to offend anyone. He says he hung it inside and outside the store because he was tired of customers coming in with sagging pants.

"I provide this service out of courtesy and love but the problem is they are really disrespecting me when they come into my store with their pants down like that," said Patel.

Patel says he had a more mild sign telling customers to pull their pants up before walking into the store but it wasn't working. He says with the new sign, he was trying to send a strong message, informing his customers of where sagging pants started in prison.

"If you look at little kids walking around with their pants down, what are you trying to prove? What are you really trying to prove? You're disrespecting people," said Patel.

Simpson says despite the message, the sign is completely inappropriate and offensive to homosexuals.

"Let's embrace people for who they are. You may not like the way they live their life but it's none of your business. We're not hurting anyone. I'm not hurting anyone," said Simpson.

Simpson says she is in contact with advocacy groups and plans on boycotting or picketing the store. Patel says more convenience stores should have a "no sagging" policy. Patel's father removed the sign's Thursday night because he did not want anymore attention brought to the store. The manager says he plans on making bumper stickers to get his message across.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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