An Atlanta gym owner has sparked controversy for a sign reading "No F**king Cops" on the door of his gym (video below).
Jim Chambers, owner of EAV Barbell Club, said he wouldn't apologize for the sign banning police from his gym, and that the facility also does not allow people who were active members of the military, WXIA reports.
The vulgar sign has been removed from the gym's door, but Chambers said he plans to put it back up without the f-word.
"It was really just the vulgarity in that sign, and that seems to bring it out for people," Chambers said. "I didn't want the other folks there to take the heat that I'm willing to take."
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"We've had an explicitly stated 'no cop' policy since we opened, and we also don't open membership to active members of the military," Chambers added, explaining that many of the people who work at at the EAV Barbell Club are minorities who feel uncomfortable with the presence of police.
The gym also functions as a community center and a meeting place for local activists.
Although the sign has been controversial, it is unlikely to be illegal, an expert said. Police officers are not a protected minority under discrimination laws, so only courts could decide if the policy violates a law.
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When asked whether police could enter in the case of an emergency, Chambers said the gym has never, and would never, need police assistance.
The Atlanta Police said the sign wouldn't stop them from entering the gym if they had to answer a call.
"Were we to respond to an emergency there, this sign would not stop us from lawfully doing our job," the department said.
"If they have a warrant, they can go anywhere they want, but we're not breaking the law," said Chambers.
Commenters on Facebook were divided on the sign. Some said the gym was exercising its right to free speech.
"It's called freedom of speech," wrote one user. "If you can't handle free speech, walk away and don't purchase or service these establishments. It's really pretty simple."
"I can sense a whole lot of conservative backlash on this one, hope the owner is ready for it," said another. "It is his gym so, he can do what he wants."
"These days if you call the cops you get shot so I don't blame this guy," wrote another commenter. "Maybe we need to change our system first."
Others said the gym was discriminating against police.
"Keep in mind he also don't allow active military," wrote one commenter. "He's a worthless waste of space let the gym sink!"
"Until they NEED a cop!" said another.