A lewd billboard promoting the Confederate flag and depicting a cartoon character urinating on the Dallas skyline has appeared on a major highway in Kemp, Texas. Residents are now engaged in a heated debate about whether or not the sign constitutes free speech.
“It’s a vulgar sign, and it faces a daycare,” said Kemp mayor Laura Peace of the billboard on Highway 175, about 45 miles southeast of Dallas, according to Fox 4 News.
The sign, which reads, “I support Confederate heritage,” was reportedly put up to protest the removal of Confederate monuments throughout Dallas per recent decisions made by the City Council.
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The council voted to remove a 123-year-old Confederate War memorial in downtown Pioneer Park earlier this month, deeming it a racist relic rather than a historic landmark. Prior to that, city officials had ordered the removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee in 2017; at the time, it was called “a symbol of injustice” by the Landmark Commission.
Passersby have been reacting to the billboard mainly with disdain — even those who acknowledge the right to express support for the Confederate flag.
“Free speech is free speech,” Jimmy Nelson, who was driving through Kemp, told Fox 4. “He has the right to say it, but we also have the right to protest against it. I think they should keep the Confederate monuments alone because they’re history, but to depict it in that manner I don’t think is a good idea.”
Dallas resident Javier Reyes said the sign made him do a double take. “There’s a guy peeing on Dallas,” he said. “I mean, it’s just wrong, you know? It’s childish.”
One Kemp resident, Demetrices Freeman, said she had learned about the billboard on Facebook and felt compelled to come see it for herself.
“It’s 2019, and we’re actually trying to get Confederate things to come down to show that we are one,” Freeman said. “And to have it put up in our city … It’s a white boy p****ng on Dallas. It says a lot with the Confederate flag. It’s just disrespectful. It’s hurtful.”
Mayor Peace took a hard stance against its presence while speaking to Fox 4 News. “We can debate the politics involved,” she said, “but that’s not an appropriate place for that type of sign. It’s not good for our community.”
She claimed that the majority of residents agree with her. “They don’t want people to have the impression that that is our value here,” she said.
Kemp officials claim they do not know who put up the controversial billboard, according to Fox 4 News, but the city has contacted an attorney to pursue its immediate removal. But an anonymous source who spoke with InForney.com said, “The billboard was paid for and that was the content of the message they wished to have displayed.”
On social media, people are also expressing disbelief. “This is disgusting and disrespectful to the city of Dallas … Only a filthy-minded person/people would display this in a public place for all (children included) to view,” one person wrote on Facebook. Another tweeted, “It’s freedom of speech but it’s disrespectful to the city in so many ways!”
Some were conflicted, with one person tweeting, “I support Confederate heritage, I was raised in the South. That does NOT mean I support racism. This is inappropriate and ugly, however … I also support freedom of speech … someone used their $ to put this up, let it run ’til someone else replaces it.”
Mayor Peace said the matter is out of her hands. “This billboard is not in the City of Kemp city limits, therefore we have no jurisdiction,” she said, according to InForney.com. However, “Politics aside, I would think that … most people would be appalled at the vulgarity of a man urinating on public display.”
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to the Dallas City Council for comment on the billboard.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Ole Miss student council votes unanimously to move statue of Confederate soldier off campus
- Photos of students wearing Confederate flags at school-spirit day event spark outrage
- High school student suspended for wearing Confederate flag attire: ‘It’s Southern pride’