Walmart associate wrote "MAGA" on gay man’s vehicle

JONESBORO, Ark. – After Sarek Bierstedt’s vehicle came back from an oil change with problems, he found “MAGA” written underneath in sealant – the initials of “Make America Great Again,” the campaign slogan of President Donald J. Trump.

Bierstedt was initially quiet about the matter. A few months back, he had the oil changed to his Jeep. Unlike some vehicles, Bierstedt’s Jeep is visually loud about who he is: an openly gay man in a relationship with his boyfriend, who actually took the vehicle in for the oil change in May.

Like most in the LGBT community, Bierstedt was not someone who wanted to see Trump elected President. His resistance to the current president is openly displayed with a number of stickers on the vehicle, from “Not My President,” to a drawing of a minimally endowed version of the billionaire New York real estate developer. The graffiti Bierstedt chose to decorate his vehicle with speaks to who he is and what he believes.

But when those beliefs clashed with someone’s in the automotive department of Walmart on Parker Road in Jonesboro, a contrasting set of characters was written on the underside of the vehicle during the oil change – “MAGA.” The letters stood for “Make America Great Again,” the slogan which Trump often Tweets in hashtag form (#MAGA). 

Bierstedt noticed the writing while under his vehicle for a tire issue. The characters were written in a unique blue sealant used by Walmart employees during work to verify that Walmart was the last to work on the vehicle. Walmart verified this to NEA Report on Monday, July 17. In effect, it verifies the last person to work on the vehicle was a Walmart associate.

It meant the culprit behind the writing worked in the Walmart automotive department.

“I was going to let it slide honestly,” Bierstedt said. “I’ve had people spit on my vehicle before because I have anti-Trump stickers. I was just going to let it go but the longer I thought about it, the more it pissed me off. I paid for a service and I get it back and it has this on it.”

Bierstedt took his vehicle back to Walmart on Friday, July 14, after some problems arose which happened after the last oil change. His oil seemed to be leaking, he said. Coupled with the graffiti, he feared his vehicle had not been properly serviced. He spoke with a manager at the store, James Smith. Bierstedt turned his phone on record during part of the conversation, legal in Arkansas if one party is aware.

Walmart on Parker Road in Jonesboro. Photo by Stan Morris | NEA Report

“I’ve been asking folks what that means,” Smith said. “The only thing they come up with was ‘Make America Great Again.’ So I don’t know what the hell that’s about.”

The recording ended not long after the manager begins to check out the vehicle. Bierstedt said he asked Smith to look into the matter of his leaking oil and the graffiti.

“He comes back and said there was nothing but a rear main leak,” Bierstedt said. “He tried to walk out of the waiting room into the tire center. I said what about the “MAGA” stuff and he said, ‘Oh. I took it off of there.'”

“They really just made the matter worse with what they did,” said Bierstedt. “It looks like a wire brush or maybe some scraper pad but it’s scratched off.”

Bierstedt wasn’t pleased with what appeared to be an abrasive or wire brush having been used to remove the political graffiti. He said it looks worse now than it did with the Republican presidential slogan initials painted on it. He also said Smith promised to have a chat with the person responsible after finding out who did it.

Bierstedt voice his frustration in a Facebook post including a photo of the before-and-after of the graffiti. This is when NEA Report became aware of the story.

On Monday, July 17, Senior Manager of National Media Relations Charles Crowson, from the Walmart corporate office in Bentonville, Ark., returned a media inquiry from NEA Report and said he, and the store manager, had not been aware of the issue until notified by our reporter. Crowson said Walmart took the matter extremely seriously and seemed to operate with haste.

Two days later, Wednesday, July 19, he released a statement to NEA Report.

“While we can not speak specifically regarding personnel matters, the individual involved in this matter is no longer with the company,” Crowson said. “We do not tolerate harassment of any kind, be it to customers or to fellow associates. Period.”

While the associate responsible appears to have been fired, Bierstedt said the worker probably thought he was simply trying to joke around or be funny. He said he didn’t find the prank funny, “at all.”

He also said Walmart offered a consolation gift for the trouble.

“They offered a free oil change,” Bierstedt said. “I passed.”


By Stan Morris | NEA Report

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8 Comments

  1. walmart did NOT handle this correctly, they should have offered at least a public apology, to fix the area that had the graffiti on it. I havent trusted walmart to do any automotive work for a long time. And now this NOPE I dont want an oil change either.

  2. you get what you pay for at Walmart. I had a tire installed and they forgot to screw down the lug nuts! I’m glad I noticed this before I left the shop or there would have been a real nasty accident if that wheel fell off. I won’t even let them cut a key there anymore let alone do maintenance on my 2 cars. Incidentally, the tire had less that 1,000 miles on it, the sidewall blew out showing the steel belts, clearly a manufacturer defect and I bought the extra warranty. Walmart didn’t honor it because it was a sidewall not the tread area………..very very small print on the warranty card. After examination, it was proven it was a factory defect and I got a new tire at 80% discount, still a rip off, not free and charged against Cooper Tires Company. Don’t ever get service at Walmart, they are worse than Pep Boys and they are pretty bad as well.

  3. so walmart F’d up, not once but 3 times with this guys vehicle, ie. the graffiti, the oil leak and then the service manager taking a wire brush or maybe a screw driver to remove the blue sealant. AND then he’s offered a ‘free’ oil change??? LOLOLOL ummmmm, NO! absolutely not let them touch my vehicle again. !!!

  4. So, whats the answer that the customer is looking for? The graffiti was taken off, true, it was rough. The employee may have thought it was funny, and the customer was a hard ass and wanted retribution. The employee was fired. What MORE does the customer want? Shut down Walmart? or what? I’m asking anyone. What would it take to appease a customer?

    • How about having done the oil change correctly the first time; how about having employees who respect other people’s property and wouldn’t put “MAGA” on the vehicle to begin with, BUT seeing as it happened, how about removing it without damaging the vehicle further AND properly changing the customer’s oil? The customer didn’t ask Wal-mart to fire the employee who did it, he just said he wanted the damage fixed.

      Just a thought, what does this say about some of the people who support(ed) Trump?

  5. What if the employee was actually gay and the MAGA actually stood for Mike America Gay Again and it was all taken our perspective. And it was a way for the employee to get to meet the car owner and take him out on date. LOL

  6. Wow ,”I agree,” Wal-Mart the management, via Bentonville, Ar or any management. Get his car fixed paint wise,then have it inspected by a service professional of the customers liking, any outside source to check the leak ,tire or whatever he would like. This is serious and should be dealt with in a serious manner. Look my father retired from Wal-Mart and I know they hold all of there staff at higher standers than this. Wal-mart has the money to handle this promptly with swift satisfaction to customer. This is not acceptable in no way I don’t care who ,what or where your from.

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