Less than two weeks after the high-profile shooting deaths of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, a new electronic billboard in Muncie, Indiana is getting attention for its "vulgar" and "racist" content.
Resident Megan Thomas saw the sign while walking with her niece. It read: "Hate cops? The next time you need help call a crackhead."
According to The Star Press, Thomas
was offended not just by what she called a message that was "vulgar, discriminatory to many different classes of people in our city," but also by the fact that it appeared to have gone up right before the start of a planned demonstration against police brutality, starting just a few blocks away.
(That protest happened without incident, according to The Star Press.)
Thomas posted her photo on Facebook along with a caption that includes contact information for the owners of the billboard and reads in part "please tell me Muncie tax dollars didn't pay for this!" She called the sign "outrageously offensive and covertly racist," and closed with "We have no local in-patient addiction treatment center, yet we have money for this?"
The image has so far been shared over 1,220 times
In the comments of the post, Thomas addressed specific reasons why the sign is racist.
"Muncie is supposedly the Meth capital of the country. They chose not to say MethHead for a deliberate reason- racism," she wrote after explaining how "crackhead" is a term typically used to describe African-American addicts and the overwhelmingly adverse effects the "war on drugs" has had on the black community in America.
Four hours after the original Facebook message, Thomas reported that the "Hate Cops?" sign was no longer appearing in the electronic billboard's rotation.
According to The Star Press, two less inflammatory pro-police messages reading "Love, Respect, Support Law Enforcement” and “Love, Support, Support Law Enforcement" now appear on the billboard instead.
The owner of the liquor store under the billboard, who does not own the actual board, told the paper he expected to receive complaints about the sign, but was relieved that he didn't. "This is not us, this is not our mentality, this is not how we feel," he said.
On Saturday night, Muncie Police Sgt. Chris Kirby posted on Facebook that the store, the city, the police department, and the Fraternal Order of Police "had nothing to do with" the sign. He closed his update with "we as a community need to put aside differences and work together to be strong and undivided."
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