An El Paseo business has sparked backlash on social media over its window display, with dozens of people calling it “racist” on social media.
The Denise Roberge Gallery’s window display features T-shirts with the words “White Lives Matter."
Other businesses in the area say that the display has sparked negative attention.
Mike Peterson, the owner of a nearby business, said: “I think that businesses should stick to their business and leave the politics to the side. We have heard a lot of negative feedback from customers that come in upset about it.”
John Southorn, owner of Lotus Garden Center, stated that the display could taint customers’ view of El Paseo.
“We all have our own beliefs and thoughts and I think people come to El Paseo to get away from the stresses of everyday life and I don’t think we should get confronted necessarily with political statements or religious statements,” he said.
However, this is not the gallery’s first time sparking this kind of attention.
Last year, the store displayed floating heads of prominent democrats with tape covering their mouths and mannequins wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
Addressing the display, the City of Palm Desert released a statement saying: “The City of Palm Desert is empowered to regulate commercial signage, but this is different. While many people – including residents, visitors, other business owners on El Paseo and City staff members – have expressed their objections to and offense at the contents of Ms. Roberge’s shop window, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its protections of free speech mean that the City is unable to regulate this type of political expression.”
“Maybe they do it just for advertising,” Southorn stated.
Peterson echoed: “I think she’s a smart business woman. I just think she got caught up on the team sports of politics and it’s not a good thing.”
Roberge refused to be interviewed on camera, but told NBC Palm Springs off-camera that despite the negative comments, she had received an anonymous letter of support from someone who expressed gratitude for the support Roberge was displaying.
Sources: NBC Palm Spring