PHOENIX — A white police officer and a black civilian are featured on new Phoenix billboards speaking out against violence and racism.
In all, between 15 and 20 billboards will go up around the Valley featuring the hashtags #OurLivesMatter and #OurChoicesMatter. A message is placed in between the white police officer and the black civilian. It reads: “Hope, not hate. Respect, not racism. Nonviolence, not violence.”
“I think those three areas are where we struggle in this conversation,” the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, the man behind the billboards, said. “It feels hopeless. There’s racism and there’s violence where there should be hope and there should be nonviolence and there should be respect.”
Maupin said there is a strained relationship between white police officers and black civilians after shootings throughout the country. He hopes the billboards will start to heal that relationship and change minds.
“A cop and a black person may never have that conversation, but the board is having the conversation for them,” Maupin said. “So if they read it or see it, they become a part of it.”
Maupin also hopes that it will spark a conversation in the community and that parents will talk to their children about the nonviolence message. He hopes the billboards will save lives.
“In these tense moments and shootings, people forget,” Maupin said. “They forget about hope because they are blinded by hate. They forget about respect because they are looking through a lens of racism. They forget about nonviolence because they are committing violence.”
Maupin has organized two protests in Phoenix and one protest Tempe in response to police shootings.
Maupin was arrested for blocking traffic on the Mill Avenue Bridge during Monday’s protest in Tempe.
He was charged with obstruction of a public thoroughfare and failure to obey a lawful order from police. His court date is set for October 10.
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