Bowtie Barber Shop in Placerville has dozens of bowties and other clothing accessories — and, until recently, a doll of Colin Kaepernick — hanging from its ceiling.
The owner of the shop, on Placerville’s Main Street, received heavy backlash and criticism after a photo of the Kaepernick doll posted by a customer to social media went viral this week.
Identifying himself to the media and known on Facebook and in person as “Bowtie Barber,” he told Fox 40 on Thursday: “I literally had no idea that I was offending people.”
These comments led to outrage, before and after he issued an apology. Many social media responses called him a racist, saying they did not think it possible for the barber not to realize the would have been offensive.
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“I’m literally getting death threats,” he told The Sacramento Bee by phone between haircuts Friday afternoon.
The barber said he’d address media inquiries in more detail Friday evening after finishing his shift.
“I want to speak out and publicly make an apology” later Friday, the barber told The Bee.
The barber acknowledged the controversy and said the doll has been taken down.
Some news reports and social media comments say the doll has been hanging in the shop since 2016, when Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem as a symbolic protest. Kaepernick has not played in an NFL game since Jan. 1, 2017.
NFL and 49ers fan memorabilia is prominent throughout the barbershop, as seen on its Facebook page.
In a walk-through video showcasing the shop posted to Facebook last March, the Kaepernick doll cannot be seen. A handful of other dolls are on display and appear to hang from the ceiling. But they are not hung by the neck, in what some commenters on the viral photo have called a “noose.”
The business’s Yelp page was quickly flooded with one-star reviews Friday.
“Hogwash Racist Buffoon Bowtie Barbershop,” one comment said.
“For some reason the owner of this establishment thinks it’s amusing to hang a Colin Kaepernick doll by a noose. Offensive, racists, and just plain stupid,” said another. “Boycott this business.”
The controversy made national news, including stories by Yahoo and Newsweek.