Political activist Sam Riddle says a PETA campaign that is about to go up in Detroit is racist and likened the group to neo-Nazis.
"That ignorant-ass billboard of PETA makes those arrogant jerkwaters every bit as racist as the KKK and neo-Nazis," said Riddle.
The PETA billboard says “Peace in our lunchtime! Choose peace. Choose Vegan,” with an arm of color holding a bunch of carrots.
Riddle said the campaign was designed to slim down Detroit with a vegan diet, but it highlights the wealth inequality and systemic racism in Detroit.
Earlier this week, the FBI named Detroit the most dangerous city in America based on new crime numbers. Detroit Police Chief James Craig has disputed the numbers.
"Detroit may be America's fattest and most violent city but to attribute that to us not eating our veggies is racist BS because Detroit is also America's Blackest, most segregated and poorest city," said Riddle, who is also political director for Michigan National Action Network (NAN).
WXYZ asked people in Detroit if they saw the billboard the same way as Riddle. The reactions were mixed.
" I don't know if there is a correlation between eating meat and physical violence against human beings or not," said Jeff Cantwell.
"I don't feel like necessarily it's a big deal at all," said James Ellsberry.
"We grow gardens here in Detroit because we can't afford the 'bourgeois' tofu of PETA. PETA's position is a manifestation of arrogance to those who wallow in the racist nature of white privilege."
PETA responded to the controversy with the following statement:
"At PETA we combat hate speech like this with a plea for compassion for each other, regardless of race, gender, religion, species, or any other prejudice, and to put aside hateful words and mean spiritedness. We live by the principle of non-violence, and have since our inception opposed all discrimination, but sadly some of those who appeal for understanding are not understanding themselves. Many of us feel relatively powerless in the face of violence, and choosing vegan meals is one way each of us can make the world a kinder and more peaceful place. The "Peace in Our Lunchtime" billboards will go up in cities across the country, starting with Detroit because of its struggle to end violence, something everyone can do at breakfast. Instead of slamming those who work for nonviolence in their own way and throwing racist slurs at them, without even knowing what race they are, how much better would it be to embrace them as fellow activists?"
Read Sam Riddle’s Full Statement
"Detroit may be America's fattest and most violent city but to attribute that to us not eating our veggies is racist BS because Detroit is also America's Blackest, most segregated and poorest city," said Riddle.
"PETA compost is comprised of a displaced reality rooted in racist white privilege that would have us growing some damn carrots instead of growing jobs and good schools to combat crime and poverty born of wealth inequality and systemic racism that justifies corporate welfare before helping single mothers," says Riddle noting the PETA billboard campaign depicting a black arm holding a bunch of carrots.
"That ignorant-ass billboard of PETA makes those arrogant jerkwaters every bit as racist as the KKK and neo-nazis," said Riddle.
"We have gardens in Detroit because we can't afford PETA recommended tofu," said Riddle. "If PETA wants Detroit to improve our diet; PETA must address the historic roots of why we eat like we eat including slavery on plantations run by PETA ancestors," said Riddle.