A Staten Island, New York, Home Depot employee started a social media frenzy when a picture of her wearing an anti-Trump hat at work went viral, prompting both support and death threats against the college student.
The hat 22-year-old Krystal Lake wore to work reads: “America Was Never Great.”
It is a play on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
"The point of the hat was to say America needs changing and improvement," Lake, who is a student at the College of Staten Island, told the Advance. "I don't think it's a positive message to say, 'Let's look to the past.'"
The photo of Lake wearing the hat was posted to social media by someone other than herself. When she woke up the morning of May 18, she had multiple text messages, tweets and phone calls from friends and co-workers asking her if she had looked at her social media accounts.
"Everyone kept asking me if I was on Facebook or Twitter, which I hadn't been," Lake said. "Then I saw how many people were sharing [the picture] and that it was going viral. I was honestly shocked — I didn't expect any of this to happen."
The picture prompted people to attack Lake, as well as Home Depot via Twitter:
Dear @HomeDepot employee wearing this hat, If it was "never great," then why haven't you moved yet? Sincerely, Tim
Time to Boycott @HomeDepot! #RETWEET & Join Bikers4Trump.com
if you're one of those people who say America was never great you're also commie scum & should probably just move to North Korea
Hey @HomeDepot are you OK with this? What an insult to #Vets and ALL Americans #Vets4Trump #Trump 2016
It was the first time Lake wore the hat to work and she was not told by management to remove it while on her shift.
While there were a barrage of negative responses to Lake's hat, there were also plenty of people who supported her wearing it.
sooo, where can i purchase that "america was never great" hat?
US: Still has segragated schools
US cuts education and welfare $
US: bombs its own cities
"America was never great"
Yall OMG HOW DARE YOU
Thoroughout all the hate mail and threats no one ever answered when America was great.... #AmericaWasNeverGreat
A spokesman for Home Depot, Stephan Holmes, told the Advance that Lake’s hat does not reflect the opinions of the company, nor does it adhere to its dress code:
We appreciate and understand the concerns of our loyal customers. In terms of the message, our associates are not permitted to wear items that reflect political statements. Unfortunately, no one on our management team saw her wearing the hat -- otherwise, they would have had her remove it immediately.
Lake, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, claims other employees at the store wear pro-Trump pins and pendants on their uniforms and have not been told to remove them.
"For the past two months, there have been a few people I work with wearing 'Vote for Trump' pins on their uniforms," she said. "But no one ever says anything to them."
Home Depot has financially backed Republican candidates in the past, according to the Daily Mail. The company also donated the maximum $250,000 towards President George W. Bush’s second term campaign.
Holmes said store leadership will be following up with Lake’s to make sure he does not wear the hat again. He did not comment on if she will lose her job.
Lake does plan on wearing the hat again.
"I feel it offended a lot of people because a lot of Trump supporters live in Staten Island," she said. "Trump is very rash and in your face, but when someone else has a message against him, his supporters can't take the criticisms."
Lake’s anti-Trump stance has resulted in death threats being sent to her social media accounts.
"People have been saying really racist things to me and that they're going to come and find me," she said, "and that what I said is disgraceful and I hate America — but I don't hate America.
"I know there are a lot of opportunities here," Lake added. "I just wish we would worry about making America better — not 'great again.'"