Industry

Harley-Davidson oust dealership owner over Black Lives Matter post

A US Harley-Davidson dealership owner has been ousted by the brand over a Facebook post relating to the Black Lives Matter movement

A Tennessee Harley-Davidson and Polaris dealer has been ousted by the two brands after he allegedly made racist comments, mocking the Black Lives Matter movement, and its protesters.

The since-deleted post on dealership owner Russell Abernathy’s Facebook page stated he was ‘sick of this black lives matter’, before calling for black people to go ‘back to Africa and stay’.

Abernathy is claiming that his social media – which features a profile picture of him stood with a Harley in front of the Confederate flag - was hacked, according to a statement from Honda – who’s powersports vehicles Abernathy also sells.

The now-deleted post was quickly screenshotted by angry onlookers and local commentators, who began tagging Honda USA in the thread, forcing the automotive giant to release a statement.

It reads:

‘American Honda has become aware of certain statements recently attributed to an owner of Abernathy’s Cycles, an independently owned retail dealership of Honda powersports products. American Honda unequivocally condemns racist statements and actions of every kind.

While Abernathy’s Cycles reports that its social media was hacked by a third party and has issued a statement in response, American Honda has commenced its own investigation and will take swift and aggressive action if warranted by our investigation. Racism and intolerance have absolutely no place in our company and will not be tolerated by those authorized to represent the Honda Brand.’

Taking to his dealership’s website, Abernathy said in a statement:

‘Regarding the social media post attributed to me 12/6/2020. I Russell Abernathy, did not post this comment and reject the content of it … I vow to make sure that Abernathy’s Harley-Davidson provides a positive environment for diversity, equality and inclusion for all.’

The move to oust the dealer by two major automotive players in the US market is a sign that the industry as a whole is trying to take a stand against systemic racism in corporate America. Polaris’ HQ is a suburb near to where George Floyd was killed and the ATV and quad maker is reported to have donated $250,000 to charities in the area that are supporting racial equality.

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