The Baxter Bulletin
Thomas Garrett / The Baxter Bulletin
FREE SPEECH, HATE SPEECH: The provocative billboard in Summit on Wednesday.
has been reporting on three billboards — or perhaps more? — that briefly appeared in the tiny Marion County town of Summit, which depict a cartoon of a snarling man who is supposed to be the Prophet Muhammad.
"You can't draw me!" Muhammad shouts, presumably in an over-the-top accent. "That's why I draw you," declares a hand wielding a pen.
The signs bore the logo of the American Freedom Defense Initiative
, the anti-Muslim organization that sponsored the 'draw Muhammad' contest in Garland, Texas in May
that took a violent turn when two Muslim men opened fire on an officer outside the event. (They were shot and killed; the officer survived.)
Evidently, the cartoon on the Marion county billboard was the winning entry from that contest. AFDI says on its website it has purchased space on over 100 billboards in the St. Louis, Missouri area to promote its supposed 'free speech' agenda. It's less clear exactly how the billboards in Summit came to pass, or if there are others dotting the highways of the rural Ozarks.
The Bulletin reported yesterday
that a man named Daniel "Boone" Fuller, who had been contracted to put up the St. Louis billboards, then made the decision to put up a few extra copies on vacant signage space in north Arkansas. Evidently, billboard owner Chuck Bright wasn't aware of the signs.
The paper quotes Fuller, who has family in nearby Flippin, as saying, "I was coming down here to visit my dad, knew of some available space and didn't think anyone would care until I could make arrangements for the billboards, so I slapped a few up."
The signs had been covered by Thursday.
But ... the website of Pamela Geller
, the president of AFDI, indicates the group was aware of the billboards' placement
. "Our AFDI free speech ads went up in in and around the northern tri-county area of Marion, Baxter and Boone counties in Arkansas," the page says.
Have you seen Muhammad in your community? Let us know in the comments.