Jewelry store under fire for controversial take a knee billboard

A Massachusetts jeweler is sparking controversy with a billboard that strikes back at take a knee protests in the NFL.

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A Massachusetts jeweler is sparking controversy with a billboard that strikes back at take a knee protests in the NFL.

A small business in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is under fire after putting up a billboard many are calling racist.

Garieri Jewelers set up an ad on a billboard along Route 20 in Charlton on Saturday depicting a young man down on one knee on a football field proposing to a woman.

The tag line in the ad reads, "If you're going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand."

The store owner says it was a play on words surrounding the NFL player protest of kneeling during the national anthem.

"It was intended to be attention-getting," said Scott Garieri, the owner.

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While Garieri hoped the billboard would get attention, he didn't expect the type of attention it got.

"Someone saw it, pulled in off Route 20 and took a picture of it and then went off about how racist it is," said Garieri. "Then they started attacking us, they wanted to come in and vomit on the [jewelry] cases, they were going to urinate on our sidewalks."

One social media comment went as far as suggesting Garieri's daughter kill herself.

Coincidentally, Nike released their own controversial ad just days after the billboard went up. The ad, which features notable athlete Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest to police brutality, has a tag line that reads, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

Both Garieri and Nike's ads have reignited the debate on whether players should take a knee, which Garieri says he opposes.

Explore>>Read: Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign

"I'm a firm believer in respecting the country, respecting the flag, respecting the national anthem," said Garieri.

Mike Brady works near where the billboard is located. Brady says once he realized what is was referring to, he felt as though discussions on social justice should be taken more seriously.

Explore>>Read: Critics suggest Pat Tillman was better choice for Nike campaign

"I have family members who fought at war and died at war, the national anthem is very sacred," said Brady. "At the same time, I have a son who is biracial. I can certainly see the players' position on social issues need a lot more attention and how do we bring attention to it."

"It wasn't meant to be racist, business is business," said Garieri.

Explore>>Read: Nike ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick sparks boycott

Garieri says the billboard is staying up because it's generated so much response it's worth the negative backlash.

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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WATCH: Nike Releases First "Just Do It" Commercial Featuring Colin Kaepernick

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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