On Friday, March 17, an anti-Trump billboard was posted in Phoenix, Arizona. The image was that of President Trump, with nuclear mushroom clouds behind him and cash symbols that resemble swastikas at his side.
Karen Fiorito is the artist behind the image. In the past, she’s done similar works protesting the likes of former President George W. Bush. However, her George W. Bush piece didn’t get nearly the same amount of backlash as this one.
“I’ve been called a communist, a Satan worshiper,” Fiorito told the Arizona Republic. “I’ve been told I’m a ‘very, very sick person.’”
But that’s not all. Things took a turn—a very dark turn—when she started receiving death threats.
“I haven’t been answering the phone. My husband has because he’s not afraid to talk to anyone, but he told me he received a couple death threats this morning. … He said, ‘They were coming to get us with their boys.’”
And while Fiorito fully expected there to be some public outcry, she didn’t expect it to escalate to this level. Things have gotten so bad that businesses beneath the billboard have also received threats, even though they weren’t involved with the project at all.
Fiorito never intended for any of this to happen, of course. All she wanted to do was provide a voice for those who felt like they weren’t being heard.
“It’s more of a form of resistance, a form of protest,” Fiorito explained. “I feel that I’m really just speaking for other people who might not be able to say anything, or speak out, or may not feel safe in doing so.”
It was a risky and bold move considering that President Trump won Arizona. But Fiorita knew she had to do it. Like most artists, she felt compelled to express herself, even in the face of adversity.