"White Lives Matter" Fishing Shirt Sparks Controversy


Ocean City, MD, is home to some serious marlin tournaments, boasting an offshore fleet of some of the best billfish captains on the East Coast. For those unaware, flying a gamefish flag upside down when returning to port means you've caught and released the species on the flag. Now that you're caught up, you'll understand why George Lamplugh, an employee at an Ocean City marina, is facing blowback for designing and selling a shirt with an upside down white marlin flag and the slogan "White Lives Matter" during the recent White Marlin Open tournament, which happens to be a kill tourney. According to Lamplugh in this story from WFMYNEWS2, the shirts are aimed at helping promote safe catch and release of white marlin, and are also a response to a shirt from another company, Swagger Fishing, that read "Kill Whitey." I don't, however, believe I need to explain why the controversy surrounding Lamplugh's shirt is stirring the pot far outside of the fishing community.

From the article:
_For local activists, it is not the shirts as much as the response from the community that concerns them. _

_"It is just a T-shirt, after all," said James Yakanawa of Showing Up 4 Racial Justice (SURJ) Delmarva. "It's not just the T-shirt itself, it's the reaction to it, it's the people saying they're going to buy 10 and hand them out that is more telling." _

_SURJ is a national organization that works closely with Black Lives Matter activists by organizing whites to get involved in the fight for racial justice. Yakanawa said ethnocentricity coupled with a misinterpretation of the use of free speech has created an opportunity for such campaigns to flourish. "It's just a very Caucasian-centric attitude, that I can print these shirts and do what I want," Yakanawa said. "And if you get offended by them, that's your problem, not mine." _

Worcester County NAACP president Ivory Smith said the shirts could be interpreted as a mockery of the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements. "It's just all around a bad idea," Smith said. "I wouldn't be surprised if someone wearing (one of) these shirts got punched in the face."