Every day on his way to work, Shawn Gilman walks down River Street and is disgusted with what he sees.
Hanging on the side of a building is a political sign which he believes insults his heritage.
The sign reads: “Re-Elect Scott Brown. Lt. Col. US Army. Not an Indian.”
“I believe the sign is highly offensive,” said Gilman, who is half Cherokee. “I’m proud of my culture. I don’t want to have to see it (the sign).”
John Caruso, who owns the multi-family building at 173 River St. where the sign hangs, paid for the sign to be printed and placed it on the outside of the structure. He said the sign will stay right where it is.
“I don’t believe the sign is offensive,” Caruso said. “There is nothing there that is derogatory to anyone other than Elizabeth Warren. It just is saying that he’s (Brown) not Native American. I’ve had people knock on my door and say thank you for saying that.”
The sign refers to a hotly contested issue in the U.S. Senate race in which Republican Brown accused his opponent, Democrat Warren, of using her Native American heritage to receive preferential treatment. Brown has been a member of the National Guard since 1978 and was recently promoted to the rank of full colonel in August.
Gilman said he has contacted the city’s Police Department, the mayor’s office and the Brown campaign in an effort to get the sign taken down. Each time he was told the same thing.
“It’s freedom of speech,” Gilman said. “But I believe freedom of speech becomes void when it is hate speech.”
He said he had no plans to speak to Caruso about the sign.
“I don’t believe that meeting would have gone well,” Gilman said.