This week, motorists along Route 422 in Worthington, Pennsylvania, were greeted by a new billboard displaying three slides: "Whites Have Rights, Too," "‘Black Racists' Men and Women in Congress" and a third featuring actor Jussie Smollett, who is mixed race and currently being investigated for allegedly falsifying a police report.
Pennsylvania resident and self-proclaimed "patriot" John Placek, who is white, maintains that he is not a bigot for purchasing the ad space for his messages. Instead, he asserts the billboard is meant to provoke "conversation," according to Pittsburgh outlet WPXI.
For clarity, the blacked out sections of the image are dead pixels on the billboard itself.
The conversation, however, is not going as Placek hoped.
In particular, his "Black Racists" slide featuring several members of the US House of Representatives (all Democrats) such as Ilhan Omar, Maxine Waters and even civil rights leader John Lewis, has drawn extreme criticism from the American public on and offline.
"I don't see it as thought-provoking… I don't see it as instigating thoughtful discussion as much as it is provoking and agitating," Michael Allshouse, a local white man, told WPXI. "I do view it as racist."
Despite Placek telling the outlet he believes there is one race — the human race — his negative portrayal of Smollett and black representatives makes many question his intent. Nevertheless the Worthington resident stands by his assertion that he wants to bring "unity" to the nation.
"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."
It's unclear what Placek wants people to get "excited" about, at least judging by his ad space, but netizens believe they've filled in the blanks concerning the billboard.
This is what a certified fool does with his money, instead he should donate to a worthy cause— frances gates (@francesgates54) March 8, 2019
Feed elderly and homeless people…
we all have rights it's call the constitution— marvin levine (@marv3216) March 7, 2019
As a white male who gets it… I apologize to all my fellow Americans for these jackass white people that somehow equate the color of their skin with anything other than an excuse to be bigoted, racist and constantly stupid. WE are ALL Americans & deserve compassion.— D Fitz (@allgood_fitz) March 8, 2019