Tom Stevens, a barber in the town of Norton, Massachusetts, is a supporter of animal rights. He is also a jokester. But maybe he should have thought twice before putting up a "BLACK LABS MATTER" sign in front of his barbershop.
FOX 13 reports that the sign at Tom's Barber Shop, which also read "SUPPORT THE MSPCA," was intended to encourage donations to the local Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But the joke backfired—as puns about racial justice movements rooted in response to police violence tend to do—and local residents are angry.
"Putting a joke to something that's hurt so many people, it's just…it's not the right way to go," one unidentified woman told the TV station.
Reached by phone at his barber shop on Wednesday, Stevens defended the sign.
"I think a lot of people should lighten up," he said. "I'm not a mean guy. There's only so many ways I know how to say something."
He said that he had raised $1,000 for the MSPCA in one day, as a result of the sign's viral spread. And as for the Black Lives Matter movement his sign parodied, he said he wasn't a huge follower.
"I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to it," he said, "because all lives matter."