A cashier from Staten Island’s Home Depot was photographed wearing a custom-made hat with the phrase “America Was Never Great,” drawing the ire of the social media world, resulting in angry responses and even racist comments and death threats.
Krystal Lake, 22, of St. George wore the controversial hat while at work on May 14. Someone took a picture of her behind the register and posted it onto social media outlets.
Unbeknownst to Lake, the picture went viral, and she started receiving tweets, messages, and calls from her friends about the hat. She said she also began to get messages that were racist and threatening. She has since defended herself, saying she doesn’t hate America:
— Dr. White (@RealDoctorWhite) May 18, 2016
“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.”
She said that she wore the hat as a statement:
“The point of the hat was to say America needs changing and improvement,” Lake told the Advance. “I don’t think it’s a positive message to say, “Let’s look to the past.'”
“I know there are a lot of opportunities here,” Lake added. “I just wish we would worry about making America better—not ‘great again.'”
Home Depot spokesperson Stephan Holmes said Lake’s message on her hat does not reflect the opinions of Home Depot.
“We appreciate and understand the concerns of our loyal customers,” he said. “In terms of the message, our associates are not permitted to wear items that reflect political statements.
She said that none of her managers at Home Depot asked her to remove the hat.
“Unfortunately, no one on our management team saw her wearing the hat—otherwise, they would have had her remove it immediately,” Holmes said.
Lake points out that she’s seen her co-workers wear pro-Trump pins.
“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.”
Lake said that she would “definitely” wear the hat again, and that the message got Trump supporters in Staten Island angry.
“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.”