EAV Barbell Club in East Atlanta Village has been the recipient of hate mail and death threats since owner Jim Chambers posted an image of his hand-written gym policy to Instagram.
“It’s not a new policy,” Chambers told the Huffington Post. “This has been our policy since we opened, about a year and a half ago.” However, as the policy gains visibility through social media, he says he has been receiving roughly three angry calls per minute.
EAV Barbell Club enforces a strict prohibition of police officers and active members of the military. According to Chambers, club members come from diverse backgrounds, and as a result some have a tenuous relationship with police.
While not all members of the club are politically motivated, many consider themselves anti-military or pro “cop abolition,” and Chambers allows members to use his facility to host meetings.
Chambers was quick to assure the Huffington Post that the policy is not personal and is not an endorsement of violence. It is also not applicable to veterans, who are welcome at the club. “We are indicting systems,” he said. “We are not indicting individuals.”
Chambers was inspired to share his policy online after news came last month of the fatal police shooting of Ismael Lopez of Mississippi. Lopez was shot at his home, where police arrived by mistake while in pursuit of someone else. Said Chambers, Lopez’ death “left me really angry.”
Since the new sign appeared on social media, the club’s Facebook rating has fallen considerably, but Chambers isn’t worried.
“We’re not profit-seeking,” he said. “I actually subsidize the place and we don’t charge people who can’t afford to pay. Most of our members are bartering time by manning the desk for a little bit.”
Atlanta police declined to comment on the gym’s policy, but a spokesperson told WXIA-TV, “Were we to respond to an emergency there, this sign would not stop us from lawfully doing our job.”