A new digital billboard in Pittsburgh has folks talking for all the wrong reasons, and many are now speaking out against the ad’s “divisive” message.
“First time I saw it was just complete and utter shock,” resident Michael Allhouse told station WXPI of the billboard on Route 422 near Worthington, which features images of prominent Black members of Congress, including Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and dubs them “Black racists.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J) also appeared on the billboard.
“I don’t see it as thought-provoking,” Allhouse continued. “I don’t see it as instigating thoughtful discussion as much as it is provoking and agitating. I do view it as racist.”
The billboard, purchased by local man John Placek, also features messages that dissolve from “whites have rights” to one about embattled actor Jussie Smollett, who’s accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself.
Placek told WXPI he isn’t racist, however, just a “proud patriot.”
“Racism is misunderstood in America and I want to have the conversation,” he said. “We need to get over: I’m black. You’re white. You’re Hispanic. Who cares? I don’t care about that. I do care about how you act and how you stand for my flag, our flag.”
Despite outrage over the board’s provocative messaging, Placek said his goal was to spark a conversation.
“We gotta get people talking,” he said. “We gotta get them excited. And that’s what I’ve done. The board was never meant to hurt anybody. I would never do that. I’m a patriot. I’m an American. Period.”
Watch more in the video below.