Community Issues

Vandals Target Billboard Over Racially Charged Messages

It's a shining beacon on the side of the road running through a small community with messaging that is hard to miss. Those messages are stirring claims of racism and calls for something to be done.


It's a shining beacon on the side of the road running through a small community with messaging that is hard to miss. Those messages are stirring claims of racism and calls for something to be done. I went to check it out for myself and that's when I discovered someone had apparently taken it upon themselves to shut it down.

The latest message sparking outrage is the one referring to the jury verdict last weekend that acquitted white police officer, Michael Rosfeld, who shot an unarmed black teenager, Antwon Rose, in East Pittsburgh last year. The billboard message labeled Rose as a "Criminal" and reads "Justice served get over it".

That is what drove Steve Smith from Braddock, Pennsylvania to drive an hour away to see it for himself and stream his reaction and disgust on Facebook Live. People are also calling their local and state leaders to complain and demand action. Borough manager George Krenn tells me their phone has been ringing non-stop with concerned callers. Unfortunately the borough has no legal remedy since there are local laws that would apply. The state also has said that its hands are tied because of the law.

State Representative Pyle addressed the hundreds who've called his office in this video:

Even though the billboard is owned by the Worthington Volunteer Fire Department, they have a contract in place with the man who is posting the inflammatory messages. That man is John Placek. When I tried to reach him for answers I was told that he is out of state and they would pass my contact information along. I still have received no response. Just a few weeks ago he did tell WPXI-TV that he isn't a racist, his goal is to spark conversation.

I should also note that I talked to several Worthington residents who do not agree with Placek's messages and they think it's only hurting the image of their normally quiet, welcoming town.

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