by Max Brantley
Publicity is what's desired, of course. Russellville Mayor Randy Horton issued a response. From the River Valley Leader:
Earlier this week the content of an existing billboard visible to westbound traffic on Interstate 40 and in the area of Exit 81 was changed. The new message infers a racist tone to many who have seen it. There has been coverage of this in local and statewide media and prompted a call to City Hall from the Little Rock office of the NAACP. This content promotes an internet address that redirects to a website of the Ku Klux Klan.
The implication of this content, in my opinion, inaccurately depict the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of the citizens in Russellville. To my knowledge no member of the City Council has ever expressed thoughts that support this message. No employee of the City, nor any one in any civic or other group, church or circle of contacts has ever made an expression that makes me believe that they would sympathize with this idea. I just don’t believe it is in any way indicative of the beliefs of the majority of Russellville residents. We do not condone the billboard in any way, but we must respect the right to free speech.
Due to First Amendment protections the City has no control or oversight of the content of private advertising. But we can condemn intolerant, divisive, racist thoughts.
As the Mayor of Russellville, I hereby do so.
Alderman Bill Eaton says "This senseless statement by outsiders from our city is disappointing and immoral and requires rebuttal."