POST FALLS, Idaho - A Post Falls company has come under fire for what many are calling a racist image posted on the side of its trucks.
The drawings feature a caricature of a young African-American girl eating watermelon.
Some are calling for Dixie Services to take those images down, but the owner says they are historical, and not racist.
Jim Valentine, the owner of Dixie Services, says it fits the image he wants to portray, which promotes the good and happy times for many people in American history.
His landscaping company also uses the confederate flag as a logo.
“This kind of hatred thing that's been built up around the Confederate flag, there's a lot of goodness and happiness and it's a part of history and a part of heritage, so we put the name on our company,” he said.
Valentine says his company is about promoting the happy spirit that was alive in the South.
So when he saw this image of a smiling young black girl eating watermelon, he saw nothing wrong with the drawing.
But reaction to the picture was quick online.
Nick Lee, a Coeur d'Alene resident, posted the picture to his Facebook page, expressing his outrage.
Soon, hundreds of other Facebook users chimed in.
“There is nothing more obscene than seeing an exaggerated, racist version of an African on a business logo on a business truck cruising around town,” said Lee.
Ask Valentine, though, whose wife is West Indian, and there's nothing racist about the image.
“I was looking at it saying, 'is it the watermelon? Is it her hair?'” Valentine said. “And I know why they don't like it. It's cause she's smiling and a very happy child like a lot of children were in the 1800's.”
Valentine assured us he is not racist, and does not support how slaves were treated in the South.
“I'm sorry for anyone during that time that was mistreated,” said Valentine. “Sometimes you hear about the chains and all kinds of horror stories, and I'm sure they're there and I'm against all of that for any race.”
But Lee says there is only one way for the company to rectify this situation.
“Take it down, take it down immediately,” he said. “You can rock Confederate flags all you want, it doesn't bother me. But when you are targeting me with an image like that, it's not free speech anymore. It's obscene.”
This is not Valentine's first run-in with controversy.
A little more than ten years ago, the business made headlines when a readerboard outside appeared to lump pedophiles and gay people into the same category.
He told me today that the sign was in reference to his outrage over murderer Joseph Duncan.
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