KENT, OH — The owner of Stahl's Bakery removed a controversial sign warning of "patriotic disobedience" of laws and orders connected to the coronavirus pandemic after online complaints Tuesday.
The bakery's owner, Cary James, said she wasn't aware of the complaints until 5 On Your Side Investigators showed them to her Tuesday afternoon.
"Not one word," said James, "not one person talked to us. Not one person called or complained or anything that I can see."
The sign, which said "The second lockdown isn't happening," and warned "when you gave a pass to rioters and looters, you gave up your right to boss around citizens," also called for "no more masks, no more frantic warnings about viruses," and "no more stay at home or closed businesses," before going on to say "we have no intentions of respecting any new little laws or civil orders."
James said she found the poster online and posted it in the window a few days ago. She said she was drawn to the line about "rioters and looters."
"If we're allowing looters and rioters to run rampant, and not going to say that's wrong and not allowing small businesses to open, I do have a problem with that," said James. "Small businesses are what our economy is based on and you turn small businesses into criminals by not allowing them to open."
By Tuesday afternoon, comments critical of the sign dotted the bakery's Facebook page.
When shown the postings, James covered the sign with another proclaiming "America, land of the free because of the brave."
The controversy comes a day before Kent's city council is expected to vote on an ordinance requiring the use of masks in public.
Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said he's heard "overwhelming support" for the proposal.
"We're taking the steps to do this because we're concerned about the health and safety of our city and concerned about our businesses staying in business," said Fiala. "Because if these businesses start shutting down for the second time, I don't think many of them are going to be able to survive."
James believes people "panicking" over the pandemic is why her sign struck such a nerve.
She cited a medical reason for not wearing a mask while in her business and said she leaves it up to customers to decide if they need face coverings while inside her bakery.
"I'm not forcing anybody in," said James. "If someone's not uncomfortable with that, there are other places or we can work something out," she said.