Harley-Davidson cuts ties with dealership over racist posts

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE – Harley-Davidson said it is pulling its Facebook ads for the month of July and severing ties with a Tennessee dealership whose owner was accused of posting racist comments on social media disparaging Black Lives Matter protesters.

The post was allegedly made on the Facebook page of Abernathy's Cycles, a Union City, Tennessee, motorcycle and ATV dealership, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.

“I’m sick of this black lives matter,” read the post, which also called for Black people to go “back to Africa and stay.”

The dealership's owner, Russell Abernathy II, told Jackson, Tennessee TV station WBBJ that he did not make the posts and that his account was hacked.

“The derogatory nature of the comment in no way aligns with my personal beliefs or that of Harley-Davidson Motor Co. It personally saddens me that this post has caused such wide-reaching pain to those that have already been subject to so many social injustices,” he wrote in a statement posted on the company's website.

The Associated Press reached out to Abernathy for comment on Thursday. He did not answer any phone calls.

Harley Davidson Inc., headquartered in Milwaukee, said on Wednesday that the Tennessee company would no longer be part of its dealer network.

“Racism, hate or intolerance have no place in the Harley-Davidson community or anywhere – in person or online. We are pausing our Facebook ads in July to stand in support of efforts to stop the spread of hateful comment,” Harley said on its website.

More than 500 companies that officially kicked off an advertising boycott Wednesday intended to pressure Facebook into taking a stronger stand against hate speech.