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Washington mayor seen in profane shirt at Costco reacts to criticism: ‘I had no idea’

·3 min read

The mayor of a small town in Washington is getting a lot of reaction from the community after photos of him wearing a controversial T-shirt circulated online.

Sequim Mayor William Armacost was seen in the photo wearing a black T-shirt with a skull, two guns and the words, “This is the USA – We Eat Meat – We Drink Beer – We Own Guns – We Speak English – We Love Freedom – If you do not like that get the ---- out.”

Photo draws outcry

The photo, taken in Costco May 2, appears in a May 3 Facebook post from Laurey Hansen-Carl.

“Does this philosophy represent you? Is this how we want our beloved city depicted? Voting matters!” the post reads.

Since then, the photo has been uploaded and shared on Facebook dozens of times, drawing criticism from users online and community members at the City Council meeting Monday.

“The message on your t-shirt is exclusionary, racist, and threatening,” one Facebook post reads. “Your words do not represent our community. They do not even represent a point of view. Racism and thuggery are behaviors, not philosophy.”

“Your behavior and language, such as that appearing on the infamous T-shirt, indicate that were it up to you, everyone who disagrees with your personal politics and the politics of the GOP should leave Sequim - leave America,” one speaker said during the City Council’s public comment period. “You have no honor. Resign before you cause any more damage to our town.”

After all the speakers had been heard, Armacost addressed the gathering, saying that he had unintentionally worn the shirt into the store, according to the meeting’s recording.

Mayor’s response

“I had no idea and I wasn’t even conscious of the fact that the T-shirt that I put on that morning before I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was one that I was indeed wearing,” Armacost said.

He explained that he wore the shirt to the AA meeting because he wanted to use the skulls as a way to symbolize that “we are all created equal,” in order to help the group members with their addiction. The back of the shirt had been covered by a sweatshirt before Armacost entered Costco, he said.

“If I had been thinking other than a quick 10-minute run into Costco, I would have turned the shirt inside out,” Armacost said. “I apologize for those that were offended.”

“I also regret that we are living in a time in our society that we have paparazzis that are looking at any opportunity they can take to have a ‘gotcha’ moment. So it’s unfortunate, if I had to do it all over again, of course I would not have put the shirt on.”

Armacost didn’t respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

In a May 8 interview, he told the Sequim Gazette: “I’m not going to step down from anyone’s attempt to shame me. I’m going to uphold constitutional rights that I have,” he said, according to the newspaper.