EMERSON - A sign encouraging consumers to "annoy terrorists" by buying American is creating controversy in Bergen County.
The sign outside the Valero gas station on Kinderkamack Road in Emerson reads "Annoy Terrorists. Buy American Fuel Here." Gas station owner Robert Obernauer says that he hung the sign to bring attention to his claims that other larger gas companies support terrorist organizations.
"I want people to realize when they spend money on gas, it's supporting terrorism," he says.
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Obernauer says that they sell almost only American-produced fuel at his Valero station.
"Oil is a massive industry and when you spend money on fuel, you should know where it is going," Obernauer says. "A lot of people don’t want to send money to countries that sponsor terrorism."
He says his sign is patriotic. However, not everyone in town agrees.
Selan Lerner lives a few blocks away from the station and used to be a customer, but says he will not buy gas there any longer.
"[Obernauer] is just trying to boost sales and hurt people along the way. It really makes me question his motives," Lerner says. "I think it borders on racism. I can't accuse him of that, but it's certainly racially insensitive."
Lerner says he would like to see the sign taken down and for Obernauer to apologize for it. However, Obernauer says it is his right of free speech and anyone who does not like it is free to buy gas elsewhere.
Obernauer says that he has hung similar signs at his Tenafly gas station as well.