Published by CNN.COM
Summary generated on August 14, 2020
There's a renewed push for the removal of a controversial billboard in an Arkansas town near the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan.
The billboard, along a busy highway in Harrison, reads, "For the Family," alongside a photo of two adults and two children holding an American flag and a sketch of a cross with a dove and a flame.
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Now, a local race relations task force of clergy and volunteers is calling for the billboard's removal through an online petition because, its members say, the sign stunts the community's growth and doesn't represent it well.
The project dovetails with a national reexamination of racial injustice following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Harrison city leaders, along with the task force, have denounced the behavior of some who interacted with filmmaker Rob Bliss in his video, which has amassed more than 1.
More than 9,000 people by Friday morning had signed onto the task force's petition to have a sign company take down the billboard.
"It's an entrance to our town, the first thing people see when they drive in is this billboard," an attorney representing the Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations, Kelsey Bardwell, told CNN affiliate KARK. "And that's not the message our community wants to convey."The billboard in question and four similar ones have gone up in recent years around Harrison, and the other four have been taken down at the task force's urging, task force member Kevin Cheri said.
The mission of his group, founded in 2003, is to "Address issues relative to this perception of Harrison as this racist community," said Cheri, who is Black.
The final sign is on land whose ownership was transferred recently from Harrison Land Company to Robb Law Firm, KARK reported, citing unspecified documents.
Jason Robb, the owner of the firm, is the son of Pastor Thomas Robb, the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
"Going through the landowner option is not going to work this time," Cheri said.
"As far as we know, he did not buy the sign company, so we still can continue to address this issue with the sign company. We're not letting up in no way and will continue to do what we have to to get it down."Harrison Sign Company declined to comment when reached by phone by CNN. Jason Robb did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.
Harrison Mayor Jerry Jackson called it "Very, very unfortunate and unwarranted that we have to live with this symbol," responding to CNN's questions about the billboard.
"It is just so hard for me to understand how somebody who claims to care for the community is hurting us so, so much," Jackson told CNN in a written statement.
Educating the community about the billboard process is now top of mind, Cheri said, adding he hopes the sign will be removed.
"The process of doing it right makes us stronger. ... It educates those with a lack of understanding of what's going on and how it's wrong."