Jake Talbot just wanted to show his support for President Donald Trump while working out at CDY Fitness in Troy, Missouri.
The former Army staff sergeant wore a “2016 Trump for President” shirt to work out — but was asked by staff at the gym to change his shirt.
He revealed this in a now-viral Facebook video he posted earlier in the week.
As of Saturday morning, the video had been viewed more than 54,000 times and received nearly 2,000 comments.
In it, he says, “I just left CDY Fitness here in Troy, where I was working out. And the owner, Liz, came up to me and said the Trump shirt I had on was offensive and that I needed to remove it to work out there, and [that] it’s linked to racism — which I friekin’ hate that word whenever people use it. It’s used way too loosely. It’s 2019. Get the hell over it. It’s not racism.”
As a result of the negative backlash CDY Fitness received over the incident, the group deleted its Facebook page, and the owner, Liz Drew, felt the need to speak out about the incident.
She said Talbot had worn the shirt to the gym on several occasions in the past, but she had received many complaints about it, including from African-American and Hispanic gym members.
“I said, ‘Jake, we’re friends and I love you, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t wear that shirt in the future,'” she said she told him.
“This was about protecting the comfort level of all members and keeping politics out of my gym. Sadly, it has done just the opposite,” she added.
Before CDY deleted its Facebook page, a post last weekend said the owners did not want their gym to be a political forum and that they wanted “everyone to feel safe and comfortable there.”
“I am deeply saddened by the amount of hate this event has garnered,” the post read. “I will personally and publicly continue to defend my stance for tolerance and against hate no matter the financial consequence.”
On Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Friday night, host Laura Ingraham ripped the gym for going after the man’s pro-Trump shirt.
“So does this mean all political messages at this particular gym have to be checked at the door?” she asked. “Because that’s going to be interesting. So now your free speech rights and your ability to believe whatever you believe has got to be checked at the gym because you are a conservative.”
Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo concurred, asking, “How can you say you are striking a blow for tolerance by telling a guy you can’t wear that because you risk offending people?”
As a result of the incident at the gym, Talbot — who had worked out there for years — and two other members canceled their memberships.
“I’m not going to go back to an establishment like that,” he said, as KSDK noted.
Watch this video — then share your thoughts below.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.