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BETHESDA, Ohio – An Ohio business owner is under fire after community members said a sign he placed outside his shop is racist.

“My sign states: ‘White lives matter, who else will pay for welfare?’ That is a question, not a statement,” the owner of Mike’s Tire in Bethesda told CNN. “It doesn’t have a question mark at the end because I don’t have one to put there.”

“I’ve worked all my life. I’ve paid into it, and it’s a lot of people around here that have done the same,” Mike, whose last name was not provided, said.

Others say Mike’s sign is misleading and will confuse people who see it.

“We actually all pay for welfare recipients to receive their benefits,” Belmont County NAACP President Jerry Moore told CNN. “When you just take facts out of thin air and put them on a billboard and call them facts, when they are your opinions, that becomes a problem.”

Mike said the sign has been up for three weeks. Recently, he has received an increasing number of complaints and calls for the removal of the sign. His business ratings have dropped on Facebook, where users have provided one-star reviews.

He told WTRF the sign reflects his disagreement with the government assistance program, but it was not intended to be racist.

“It’s kind of sad that people go to these extents to read into stuff and twist and turn a question. [It’s] not a racist question. I am not a racist,” Mike told WTRF, adding that he has Black customers and deliverymen. “The racist stuff is just somebody twisting and turning, and it’s ridiculous. Everything right now is very high tension, and this might be some of it, some way that people try to let the steam go.”

He apologized to anyone who was offended.

Mike said he plans to take the sign down soon to replace it with a message honoring veterans for Veteran’s Day.

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File photo open sign (Image by Deb Beatty Mel/Flickr)