'ACAB!' motel sign ignites fury, debate in NC tourist town
The motel owners said the sign, which has been met with backlash, was their way of encouraging conversation on police reform
By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer
MAGGIE VALLEY, N.C. — A "family friendly" motel and RV park in North Carolina's mountains now is a target on social media after the owners put out a sign accusing police officers of being "bastards."
The message: "ACAB! The Barrel is Rotten" was posted days ago on a sign in front of the Our Place Inn, and later shared on its Facebook page. ACAB is a decades-old acronym meaning "All cops are bastards."
Motel owners Cody and Kitty Currin told TV station WLOS the sign was their way of encouraging a community conversation of police reform in Maggie Valley. The town of about 1,700 people is 35 miles west of Asheville.
However, much of the response has been less than polite, with a growing backlash and thousands of online critics, some of whom accused the couple of "hate speech" against police. The post had 5,600 reactions, 8,700 comments and 1,300 shares as of Tuesday afternoon.
Among the critics is Law Enforcement Today, which said the motel's "bold and hateful speech" was posted just days after two North Carolina sheriff's deputies were killed during a 13-hour stand off in Watauga County.
"Never dreamed I would see this kind of vile hate in a country I love so much ... Shame on this business!" Jim Hess wrote on Facebook.
"It's their right. We don't have to agree with it. They got lots of publicity over this. Probably not the kind they needed. With every action there is a consequence," Kimberly Coker White posted.
Some of the commenters supported the motel's intent and were not afraid to challenge the critics.
"Help me understand why it is wrong to want police officers to be equipped with education, resources and training as well as guns. I would think most officers would want (and should expect) that for themselves," Annie Langley wrote on the motel's Facebook page.
Other businesses in Maggie Valley are also responding — by putting out signs in support of law enforcement. Photos of the signs are showing up on the We Love Maggie Valley, N.C. Facebook group, with 19,500 followers.
Motel co-owner Cody Currin told WLOS they have "no regrets," and the sign has achieved its purpose.
"ACAB got everyone's attention just like we knew it would. Posts are spreading like wildfire and a discussion has started," the motel wrote May 1 on Facebook. "Too many individual cops who have created tension and (sown) distrust in our national communities. These few apples have been allowed to permeate for so long that THE BARREL IS ROTTEN. We need a complete overhaul of a system that has been allowed to become corrupt from the inside."
The motel's post goes on to list a series of goals, including: better de-escalation training for officers; expanded use of mental health professionals by police departments; a "national blacklist database" to prevent "criminal cops" from applying for jobs at other departments; and the use of body cameras at all times by officers.
On Monday, the motel took yet another public stand, unveiling a petition "against raising taxes to expand the Haywood County jail."
"Rehabilitation comes from reform, not incarceration," the campground posted.
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