News & Politics

[Exclusive] Group Behind #ShootBack Posters Says Gay Community Can't Protect Families if Elected Officials Disarm Them

On Thursday morning, residents of West Hollywood, California, awoke to find their neighborhood had been plastered with rainbow-colored Gadsden flag posters that were emblazoned with #ShootBack.

The posters, 30 of them in all, were spotted near West Hollywood City Hall, the Pacific Design Center, and The Abbey, a well-known gay lounge. One also appeared in front of the home of artist Chad Michael Morrisette, who had covered the roof of his house with 50 mannequins after the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday.

The #ShootBack hashtag on the gay rainbow flag with the pro-gun Gadsden symbol was clearly a provocative response to Sunday’s attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were killed. There has been much speculation about who was responsible for the street art, but no one has come forward to claim responsibility … until now.

A street artist in Los Angeles who said he is a spokesman for the group responsible for the posters spoke exclusively to PJ Media on Thursday. Sabo, who was behind the tattooed “Blacklisted and Lovin’ It” Ted Cruz posters that appeared in Hollywood back in 2014, said the #ShootBack posters were a group effort and they were designed to send a message.

First, “it’s important that people know that this image came out of the gay community,” Sabo said.

West Hollywood is home to a significant LGBT population and was the location of an LGBT Pride event the night of the terror attack. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil to remember the victims on Sunday night.

Sabo expressed the group’s frustration with those who are calling for gun control in the wake of the attack. “Continuing to deny where the threat is coming from will not help keep this community safe,” he said. “The gay community needs to realize that the police are there to respond, not protect.”

Not everyone agrees. Capt. Holly Perez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, West Hollywood Station, told the Los Angeles Times, “I understand the sentiment behind [the posters] and 1st Amendment rights, but it’s a bad message. I hope it’s just people venting that they could do this, and I’m hoping their calmness will take over.” She added, “It’s our job to keep you safe.”

West Hollywood Councilman John Duran, who is gay, said the posters were upsetting to the gay community. “Even during our heightened days of civil disobedience and protest, we have only advocated peaceful means, never arming ourselves and retaliating with violence,” he said.

Sabo vehemently disagreed with the accusation that his group was calling for retaliation and violence. “It is all of our responsibilities to be able to protect ourselves and our families. We can not do that if our elected officials disarm us,” he said.