“Hate Cops? Call a Crackhead.” That’s the message on an electronic billboard in Muncie, Indiana, and it’s causing controversy both on social media and in the city of about 70,000 people, the Star Press is reporting.
Facebook user Megan Thomas says she was walking along Mucie’s Riverwalk on Saturday afternoon when she noticed the sign, and immediately she was offended by the sign’s “vulgar, discriminatory to many different classes of people in our city,” as well as the fact that it went up just a few hours before a planned demonstration against police brutality was scheduled to take place in the city.
“I was very ashamed that something so dividing was present in Muncie.”
Meanwhile, a billboard in Muncie #Indiana – pic.twitter.com/9Flxakl7UK
— LTSRowe (@LTSRowe) July 20, 2016
As you are no doubt aware, tensions between police and the general public have been tense (to say the least) of late. The recent high-profile killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile — two black men who died at the hands of police under questionable justification — have been followed by sometimes-violent protests and even deranged individuals murdering cops. And it seems like the matter is dividing Americans right down the middle: those who support Black Lives Matter and the police accountability movement, and those who support law enforcement (NOTE: It’s possible to do both, but that’s a discussion for another article).
In her Facebook post, Ms. Thomas lays out the reasons why she thinks the sign is racist.
“White people get to be meth and coke heads or junkies. ‘Crackheads’ is a term reserved for black addicts, and this isn’t up for debate. Secondly, Muncie is supposedly the Meth capital of the country. They chose not to say MethHead for a deliberate reason- racism.”
At this point it bears noting that the term “Hate Cops? Call a Crackhead” is not new and is not unique to billboards in Muncie, Indiana. You can get bumper stickers, yard signs, T-shirts, hoodies — just about any medium you like — bearing the phrase, or variations of the phrase.
— Feisty☀️Floridian (@peddoc63) September 19, 2015
Besides the divisive message in the sign, Thomas is also concerned about the fact that it might have been paid for with tax dollars.
“Please tell me Muncie tax dollars didn’t pay for this! We have no local in-patient addiction treatment center, yet we have money for this?”
Tracking down who is responsible for the sign has proved difficult. One person who is not responsible for the sign, however, is Chris Johnson, general manager of Muncie Liquors, in whose parking lot the billboard stands. Johnson found out about the sign when one of his employees called him to say that a person had come into the store to complain.
“This is not us, this is not our mentality, this is not how we feel.”
Johnson merely rents space in his parking lot to Hometown Outdoor Advertising, the company that owns the sign. Hometown Outdoor Advertising has returned calls for comment.
Similarly, Muncie Police Sgt. Chris Kirby has denied that the Muncie police had anything to do with the sign, nor did the city or the Fraternal Order of Police. As of this writing, according to a follow-up Fox News report, whoever is responsible for the sign has not come forward.
It seems, however, that the complaints about the sign have been heard by whoever was responsible for them. The “Call a crackhead” phrase has been removed from the sign’s rotation, and as of this writing, the sign’s messages include ads for a car dealership and much more mundane messages such as “Love, Respect, Support Law Enforcement.”
Do you find the message “Hate Cops? Call a Crackhead” offensive?
[Image via Facebook]