An “offensive” hoodie resulted in a U.S Army vet from the 101st Airborne Division being ordered to leave the Indianapolis Zoo last week.
Anthony Edmonson, 31, was sporting a sweatshirt that had an image of a 9mm bullet with the phrase, “Just the Tip, I Promise,” according to Popular Military.
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After he had been wearing it in the zoo for more than two hours, a zoo official came up to him and asked him to remove his sweatshirt or turn it inside out.
The zoo employee told Edmonson that a guest complained about his hoodie and that it violated the zoo’s dress code policy as it included a “sexual innuendo.”
Edmonson said, “I never found anyone who took offense to that hoodie. I wear that hoodie on a daily basis. One hundred percent of the time, most people think it’s a hilarious joke. Somebody probably didn’t understand that it was a picture of a bullet. That, or they’re very anti-gun.”
Indianapolis Zoo spokeswoman Judy Palermo said, “Offensive language or graphics on clothing are not appropriate at a family gathering spot like the zoo. This guest was kindly given an opportunity to stay in the Zoo as long as he covered up the wording on his sweatshirt or removed the clothing or turned it inside out. He chose not to.”
She said that since the zoo is a private institution, they have the right to ask anyone to leave if they violate the dress code. The zoo website states, “We respectfully ask that you use modesty with regard to your wardrobe,” The Daily Mail reported.
Edmonson said his First Amendment rights were violated.
“They said they got a complaint about my shirt and asked me to remove it and I refused. Because it was my First Amendment right for freedom of speech,” he said.
After Edmonson was ushered off the grounds by off-duty police officers working security, he posted details of the event on social media, which was shared more than 1,000 times.
He said he was barraged with negative remarks.
Edmonson said, “It was so negative. A lot of people seemed to not like it. People were just so sheltered, and they don’t understand it. I gave up trying to understand people. Other than that, I really don’t care. It’s not affecting my life any. I never really cared what people thought about it in the first place. I was just shocked that it went as far as it did. I never thought it was going get this kind of attention.”