Harley-Davidson said this week it was done with a dealer in Tennessee over a racist social media post. In a now-familiar ritual, the dealer has denied writing the post, saying it got hacked. The dealer also owns a Honda store, and Honda said it was investigating. Harley decided this week it had seen enough.
The post in question was attributed to Russell Abernathy, the owner of the Honda and Harley stores, in addition to a Polaris store, all in Union City, Tennessee. It was flagged by a local activist group on Twitter and is almost cartoonishly racist:
Abernathy then put this statement on his dealership website, still there as of this writing. Never a great thing when you have to put a statement like this on the website of the business you own.
And Honda put out their own statement, which says that the dealership told them they’d been hacked:
Followed by Harley’s, which made it clear that it was done with the dealer.
Bloomberg reported a few more details yesterday, including Polaris cutting ties as well:
Abernathy, who goes by the nickname “Tootie,” is a third-generation owner of a Harley store. His grandfather began working on motorcycles out of his garage in 1955, according to his company’s website.
Polaris said in a June 17 statement that Abernathy had agreed to cede ownership of his store.
“Should that transfer not occur, Polaris will terminate our relationship with current ownership,” the company said.
Which makes Honda, for now, the only company sticking with him, though that will probably change. A Honda spokesman said, “We are in the final stages of our investigation and finalizing direction. We should have more to say either later today or tomorrow.”
It is possible that the dealer was indeed hacked, as his apology certainly doesn’t sound anything like the post attributed to him. But without evidence it’s impossible to know for sure, and it’s strange that Honda says the dealer said it was hacked but Abernathy’s statement doesn’t mention it.
Abernathy also does not inspire much benefit of the doubt.
Abernathy has said his Facebook page — which features a photo of him standing next to a motorcycle and pointing up at a Confederate flag — was hacked, according to Honda.
Anyway, be careful out there.