Pro-police billboards placed in three cities that have been the scene of high-profile incidents of police violence as well as massive Black Lives Matter protests, is raising eyebrows, despite the group that paid for them saying they are only looking to support law enforcement. The controversial ads, which read “no police, no peace” were placed Monday (Sept. 14) on the billboards by Heritage for America, a conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank. It even shows a Black police officer in its photo.
The organization placed two ads in New York City (one in Times Square), two in Atlanta and three in Dallas. They are expected to remain for the next two weeks.
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Noah Weinrich, a spokesman for Heritage for America, which stands against the call by demonstrators to defund the police, said that the intention of the ad campaign was to show a message of support for the police in the face of violence in the cities where the billboards were placed, noting that those cities were deliberately picked because of recent increases in crime statistics in all three places, plus the resignation of the police chief in Atlanta, which took place after the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.
“They are major cities that have seen a lot of violence,” Weinrich told BET.com. “We wanted to show a message of support for the police. We believe that America wants safety, security and a clearer vision for the end of the violence. We want to send a message of support for the officers that keep America’s communities safe.”
Heritage has not revealed how much Heritage for America spent on the ad campaign, and Weinrich said he was not clear on why an African-American police officer was depicted in the ads.
But Mary Hooks, an Atlanta-area activist and member of the grassroots group In Defense of Black Lives balked at the notion of simply supporting police, saying the Heritage organization’s motives are easy to see through.
“We know it’s a conservative right wing think tank, that’s not surprising,” she told BET.com. “What I find interesting is how many people are being led by their propaganda, but not questioning their fear tactics.
“Even in chattel slavery, white supremacists would say if slaves got freedom it would be anarchy,” she continued. “We know a lot of this propaganda is historical. It’s how white supremacists focus in this country has been used to suppress libratory work.
“That cost a fine penny to do that,” she continued. “It was intentional because it’s election time. But because they have the money they’ll keep doing it. But our voices in the community will have to be louder than the billboard.”