Huge “Driving while Black” Billboard Calls Out Racial Profiling in Detroit Suburb
An electronic billboard in suburban Detroit is catching the eye of drivers thanks to the efforts of one resident who wants to warn others about racial profiling by police.
"Driving while Black? Racial profiling just ahead. Welcome to Livonia."
The billboard, which sits on a major thoroughfare that runs through Detrot’s western suburbs is funded by a Facebook group calling itself Livonia Citizens Caring About Black Lives, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Livonia has reportedly had a reputation for police racial profiling as drivers have complained for years about being harassed by police. One study showed that Blacks are 16 times more likely than other racial groups to be arrested there.
“Some people want to deny that it’s a problem,” Delisha Upshaw, who created a fundraising campaign for the billboard, told the Free Press. “That can’t be the way. Livonia is not an all-white city anymore. We have to be a city that is welcoming for everyone.” The group has raised more than $2,100 so far.
The sign does not sit in Livonia itself, as billboards have been banned in the suburb, but it does sit in adjacent Redford Township. Livonia’s mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan criticized the billboard as “counterproductive.”
"This billboard will not help advance the progress of diversity in our community, something to which I am committed," Brosnan said in a statement, according to the Free Press.
Police chief Curtis Caid said in a news release, the Free Press reported, that he does not tolerate racial profiling among officers in the town. "Livonia is a welcoming community to all regardless of one’s race. This billboard sends the exact opposite message of our values at the Livonia Police Department and of those in our community.”