Billboard along busy Butler County intersection causing commotion among community

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A lot of people in Butler County are upset about a new billboard in the area. They say its offensive and hateful and they want it taken down.

If you’re driving along Route 422 in Butler County, you may come across this new billboard that’s raising a lot of eyebrows.

It’s only been up for about a week at this busy intersection in Summit Township near Bonniebrook Road and it’s already causing controversy.

Some community members say they were shocked and disturbed when they saw the messages displayed.

“I think it’s terrible and I think it’s disrespectful and I think it should be taken down,” said Laura Mitchell.

One of the messages says “the FBI corrupt and dangerous, the gestapo” with a swastika.

Another message says, “Stop teaching critical racist theory to our kids”, referring to critical race theory.

“I think everyone has the right to free speech but when its hate speech, it’s hard for me to understand that someone would have so much hate in their heart to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to display that on a highway,” said Heidi Priest.

Heidi Priest lives down the road and her kids go to elementary school just a few minutes away. She’s upset because they drive past this billboard everyday.

“So for them to see some of the stuff that’s on there is just disappointing,” said Priest.

Only channel 11 spoke with the billboard’s owner to question him about the community’s concerns. He says he put it up to display his views and doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong.

“What I’m doing and I like free dialogue anybody can see me and come see me and give me their views and I would respect their views and all I want is for them to respect my views,” said John Placek, the billboard’s owner.

Placek said he has four other billboards in Worthington with the same messages on them and plans to put up another one in the area. Several people in the community want him to stop.

“I just think it needs to come down. I mean he can think that all he wants. Keep it in your house and friends or family, don’t need to bring it out into the community,” said Mitchell.

FBI Pittsburgh officials said, “FBI Pittsburgh is aware of the billboard. The men and women of the FBI work hard every day to protect the American people and to uphold constitutional rights, including the right to free speech. Free speech, however, cannot be misconstrued to include directed threats toward another individual, group, or location. We will take action when the activity crosses the line into criminal behavior.”

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