Fault Lines
24 April 2017

Next Time You Need Help, Call A Crackhead

July 21, 2016 (Fault Lines) — A strongly worded pro-police billboard that recently appeared above a liquor store in Indiana sparked a public outcry highlighting the growing chasm between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The digital billboard stated, “Hate cops? The next time you need help call a crackhead.”

The Star Press reported that many Muncie residents were incensed when the slogan first appeared, calling it “vulgar” and “outright racist.” It also did not go unnoticed that the controversial billboard went up just hours before a Black Lives Matter protest against police brutality was scheduled to start a few blocks away.

Muncie Resident Megan Thomas was so outraged that she shared a photo of the billboard on Facebook on Saturday morning, writing,

Please tell me Muncie tax dollars didn’t pay for this! This outrageously offensive and covertly racist sign says “HATE COPS? The next time you need help CALL A CRACKHEAD.” We have no local in-patient addiction treatment center, yet we have money for this?

Thomas told the Star Press on Sunday that she taking a walk with her niece when she spotted the billboard. She said the message was “vulgar, discriminatory to many different classes of people in our city…I was very ashamed that something so dividing was present in Muncie.”

Her post elicited a firestorm on Facebook, with more than 1,000 shares by Monday afternoon.

While Muncie residents may have been shocked by the slogan, “Hate Cops? Call a Crackhead,” it is hardly new. In fact, it has been a popular pro-police catchphrase for a few years on Facebook and Twitter, and T-shirts with the slogan are readily available for purchase online. It’s been around long before the advent of social media, a perpetual police union favorite.

Chris Johnson, the owner of the liquor store where the sign was located, told the Star Press that he called the billboard company after he received a barrage of calls from irate residents calling for the removal of the sign. He was assured that the slogan on the electronic billboard would be promptly replaced.

Police Sgt. Chris Kirby posted a message to the Muncie community on Facebook Saturday, stating that Muncie Liquors “had absolutely nothing to do” with the message, nor did any local law enforcement. He was also quick to assure Muncie residents that no tax dollars were spent in erecting the sign.

RT reported that, as of Sunday morning, the controversial billboard had been taken down and replaced with “ads for car dealerships, a local restaurant, the city bus system and Hometown Outdoor Advertising, the company that owns the electronic billboard.” A new message appeared on the billboard Monday, saying, “Love, Respect, Support Law Enforcement.”

On Wednesday, ABC6 reported that Gary Dragoo, the owner of Hometown Outdoor Advertising, put up the billboard and is standing by its message, calling it “timely.”

I’m anything but racist,” he said. “I grew up respecting law enforcement, and it just all seems like it’s being lost today. I [sic] just seemed, being Americans, a timely message to put out there.

Dragoo thought the complainers were just misinterpreting his point, “the sign isn’t meant to be bigoted: He says it’s meant to support and honor police.”  No word on whether any of Dragoo’s best friends are black.

10 Comments on this post.

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  • DaveL
    21 July 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

    It’s meant to honor the police? Talk about damning with faint praise! I certainly hope that better things would be said of my own profession than “Well, at least they’re not crack addicts.”

  • Mario Machado
    21 July 2016 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Call a crackhead? That all depends on whether there’s a “reasonably scared crackhead” law in the books.

  • Cornflake S. Pecially
    21 July 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    These PSA billboards are getting trickier to decipher all the time.

    Paranoid, angry, hostile and anxious.

    Crackhead or Cop?

    I am confused, who should I call?

  • Daniel
    21 July 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    The police often threaten to not do their job when they are criticised. The sign is an implied threat that the police won’t help if you cross them.

    I only call the cops if I absolutely must, such as my insurance company requires a police report, because cops often cause more problems than they solve.

    The courts have also taken away our rights to protect ourselves, but by the time the police arrive, help is often too late. It happens time and again that helpless, unarmed victims are hurt and killed during the time it takes the cops to arrive.

  • Eva
    21 July 2016 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    I suppose it feels good to get mad when a portion of the public doesn’t apparently appreciate your efforts.

    But is it going to make it better for all concerned?

    Shoving down an ultimatum like this down every casual passerby (who may of actually been on the cops side prior to perusing this sign)of your local community doesn’t sound too friendly. Cops or Crackheads to help? Well there are other options such as family, friends, and neighbors (or maybe the military if your live close to such facilities) if the sh*t hits the fan. I’d probably use those options if the local law enforcement thought so poorly of the public to put up such drivel.

    • Eva
      21 July 2016 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Let’s be clear even though it has been indicated the local law enforcement was not involved with this piece of work it was in reference to them and should have never been allowed in the first place.

  • azazel
    21 July 2016 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Hey, at least a crackhead won’t expect you to thank him for killing you.

  • Jim
    22 July 2016 at 5:43 am - Reply

    Whether you’re for or against the sign I’m left with the impression Megan Thomas is the racist. The sign makes no comment on the race of cop haters or crackheads. I’ve always thought those two terms included people of all races.

  • Thomas
    22 July 2016 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    If you need “help,” cops are generally the last people you should call. They excel mostly at needlessly escalating situations and taking reports.

  • P.O. Jonathan Aledda: A Cop’s Truth | Simple Justice
    23 July 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    […] As for the good people who may not exactly adore cops enough to believe anything, at least they can sleep at night believing that they aren’t so flagrantly incompetent or malevolent that they need fear the police more than a crackhead. […]