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Billboard about race sparks controversy along Route 422

WORTHINGTON, Pa. — A message on a billboard in our area is upsetting some people.

“First time I saw it was just complete and utter shock," said Michael Allshouse. He told Channel 11 he almost stopped dead in his tracks when he came across the billboard on Route 422 next to Worthington.

“I don’t see it as thought-provoking. I don’t see it as instigating thoughtful discussion as much as it is provoking and agitating," he said.

The messages dissolve from "whites have rights" to one about Jussie Smollett -- the actor involved in the hoax attack in Chicago.


“I do view it as racist," Allshouse said. "I know, under the Constitution free speech is there and hate speech is guaranteed, too, and protected by the Constitution, (but) just because you have a right to do something doesn’t mean you should do something.”

The owner of the billboard — John Placek — told Channel 11 that he’s not racist and said he’s a proud patriot.

“Racism is misunderstood in America and I want to have the conversation," he said. “We need to get over: I’m black. You’re white. You’re Hispanic. Who cares? I don’t care about that. I do care about how you act and how you stand for my flag, our flag.”

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Placek also told Channel 11 that he doesn’t want to create division, he wants to spark a conversation.

He stands by the belief that there’s only one race -- the human race.

“We gotta get people talking. We gotta get them excited. And that’s what I’ve done. The board was never meant to hurt anybody. I would never do that. I’m a patriot. I’m an American. Period,” Placek said.