Lakewood Ranch distillery says Facebook is blocking ads for event supporting local law enforcement

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Steve Milligan founded Loaded Cannon Distillery in Lakewood Ranch about two years ago. He says 2020 proved to be a tough year for everyone, especially our first responders.

Loaded Cannon Distillery is getting ready to unveil its newest line of spirits honoring frontline heroes. EMTs, nurses, police, firefighters will get partial proceeds from each bottle sold.

“It is a wonderful cause for all of the great duty they do and all the work they do for our neighborhood,” said Milligan. “We have been through some trying times here not only Loaded Cannon, but the Bradenton area and all over the United States and the world. It is just a way to give back, it is just important,” he explained.

The launch party is set for Saturday, May 29 in the distillery’s parking lot. Money raised during the ‘Back the Blue & New Spirits Launch’ will benefit S.O.L.E, a non profit supporting law enforcement.

Organizers tell 8 On Your Side getting the word out about the event hasn’t been easy. Michelle Russell says she’s set up multiple paid advertisements on Facebook, but all of them have been rejected.

“It was very shocking. I am not gonna let it stop me though. I am still going to go out and pass out flyers and do whatever I can to let the community know that we are here and we do support every first responder and the police,” said Russell.

Facebook’s reasoning for rejecting the ads?

The message explaining why the ad couldn’t run said, “your ad may have been rejected if it mentions politicians or sensitive social issues that could influence public opinion, how people vote and may impact the outcome of an election or pending legislation”.

“It was real surprising. We were trying to get the word out there so everyone would participate and have a good time and so when you get a block like that it’s like, why us? What did we do wrong?,” said Milligan.

The distillery’s founder tells us he didn’t see anything wrong with trying to do something good.

“It is nothing political. It is just thanking those people who do services for us every day, day in and day out,” he explained.

Facebook hasn’t responded to 8 On Your Side’s request for comment, clarification on the ad rejection.

The launch event is set for May 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 3115 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. Suite 110 Bradenton, FL. Organizers say the outdoor event will be kid-friendly and dog-friendly.

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