The ad, which was previewed on Facebook Jan. 7 and also ran in Skillset Magazine,
was commissioned by Spikes Tactical
, an AR-15 parts and weapons manufacturer in Apopka, and Texas-based clothing line Pipe Hitters Union.
Besides showing heavily armed men standing down protesters who appear to be carrying flashlights and broomsticks, the ad also mentions the sites of recent political clashes that involved Antifa counterprotesting white supremacists, including the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville that left a protester dead.
Maybe they're taking advantage of our recent political divide and just want you to buy their guns and clothes for the next protest? Or, perhaps they're sympathizing with the white supremacists who oppose antifascist counterprotestors. Unfortunately, it's unclear exactly what this ad is promoting.
Comments on the Facebook ad were what you would expect. Posts included takes like "Which side would you have taken during the Tiki March? Spike’s Tactical? I’d love to know?" and "It's not about race, you're just on the side of the white nationalists?"
Following a scathing report from Newsweek
, Spike's Tactical and Pipe Hitters Union sent a statement to Orlando Weekly
defending the ad, saying it shows "peaceful, patriotic Americans," and that they had no idea it would be so controversial.
"Our advertisement, NOT TODAY ANTIFA, is meant to be pro-American and against those who would suppress freedom of speech and the rest of our constitutionally protected rights, including the right to bear arms,” said Kit Cope, spokesman for Spike’s Tactical. "We offer zero apologies to anyone that is offended by this advertisement that depicts armed, but peaceful, patriotic Americans standing up against socialist, anarchist and communist rioters."
Lincoln A. Osiris, president of Pipe Hitters Union also defended the ad. "We had no idea this ad would become so controversial, but let me be very clear about one point — We are not and do not support Nazis or any white supremacist movement in any shape or form."
It's always safe to assume that your message was lost if you have to proclaim in a statement that you don't support Nazis.
A Florida gun company near Orlando is defending its decision to run a completely insane ad showing men carrying assault rifles at a protest, which is in no way condoning violence, folks.