A controversial billboard on Route 422 in neighboring Armstrong County is causing quite the stir- and caught the attention of Pennsylvania State Rep. Jeff Pyle.
The billboard along the highway in Worthington has been displaying what many consider to be inappropriate messages- including one message with a racial slur and another referencing the former East Pittsburgh police officer who was found not guilty of homicide last week for shooting a black teenager. The billboard displayed the word “criminal” above a photo of the teen.
The board is owned by a private individual who signed a two-year lease with the Worthingon West Franklin Fire Department to rent the space. The individual has threatened to sue the department if they take down his messaging, according to Rep. Pyle.
“I’ve seen the billboard and I most-definitely do not approve,” Pyle said in a video message to constituents this week. “Hate speech is never right. People in Worthington do not think like the messages on that billboard.”
Sunoco has reportedly halted fuel deliveries to a gas station that sits about a quarter-mile away from the billboard. John Placek owns the board, according to WPXI-TV. In an interview, he reportedly said he “realizes he pushed the envelope” with the recent messaging and says he was trying to highlight the dialogue of race issues.
A report filed Sunday with State Police said wires to the sign had been cut, causing half of the sign to go dark.
Because the billboard is privately-owned, Rep. Pyle and Worthington Borough officials say there is nothing they can do legally.
“We’re still working to figure something out,” Rep. Pyle said.