(Originally posted in the Burlington County Times: https://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/news/20200702/burlington-city-business-faces-backlash-over-black-lives-matter-signs)
BURLINGTON CITY — A city business owner has faced backlash for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
The owner of Burlington Press, a local marketing and printing business, said he has lost customers, had a sign stolen from outside of his High Street storefront and faced insults online for printing, selling and displaying a Black Lives Matter sign.
But the backlash won’t stop Scott Sutton from supporting a cause that he feels is important.
Earlier this year, Sutton began selling “Thank you frontliners” signs for people to display on their lawns during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said a customer requested the business start selling Black Lives Matter signs in the same way.
Sutton, who is white, said he’s been forced to delete ugly comments made under his Facebook Marketplace posts advertising the signs, and has received private messages calling him a “scumbag” for selling the signs.
He even lost a client, who in an email called Sutton a racist.
“Every person on this earth deserves to be treated with respect and obviously you don’t share the same opinion, I can’t do business with a racist. Jesus loves all and that is my way of thinking and how I choose to live my life,” the customer wrote.
Sutton said he can take the heat.
“This isn’t about me, I want other business owners who get the same kind of backlash to know that they’re not alone. They shouldn’t be afraid to express their opinions,” Sutton said in a phone interview Tuesday.
At least one other High Street business has expressed their opinion with a Black Lives Matter sign, only to have it stolen as well.
Laura Reed, owner of Peace of Earth at 243 High Street, said she noticed the sign she got from Sutton was stolen this past Sunday. Reed said she first thought the wind might have blown it away — until she noticed her other two signs were still in their place.
Reed, who is white, said the recent movement for equality across the country, and the country history of racial inequality that the movement has exposed, has made her realize her white privilege for the first time in her life.
She posted the sign to show her support for the movement and Burlington City’s Black community.
“I just feel that standing behind the Black community is really important right now because they deserve equality,” Reed said. “I just think its important because you can’t un-know something, you can’t un-see something — it’s up to us as a society to help bring about that change.”
Sutton said prior to selling the signs, he considered the fact that he may face backlash, and that he usually tries to not let personal beliefs affect his business. However, with the Black Lives Matter movement he felt the need to show his support.
He said he plans on donating some of the proceeds from the sale of both the “Thank you frontliners” and the Black Lives Matter signs to organizations that support each cause.
And if someone once again takes the black and white sign standing in the tree bed outside of Burlington Press, “there’s another one that’s going to replace it. It’s not going to stop me,” Sutton said.
“It seems like a select few want to make trouble, but I don’t think its going to make a difference,” said Reed. “It’s going to bring the community closer.”