Anti-Obama billboard taken down

The owner of a Grand Junction company located beneath a controversial billboard of President Barack Obama is glad the sign is now gone.

Doris Downey, owner of J&S Fence Co., 2886 Interstate 70 Business Loop, said she neither supported nor opposed the message the sign was intended to convey, but its presence was a major disruption to her business.

“It was hard for my trucks to get out and hard for customers to come in,” Downey said hours after the sign was taken down Friday morning. “I defend the freedom of speech people have to put up the sign, but I have to say I’m thrilled it’s gone.”

Downey said the owners of the billboard company removed it after receiving threats from people who didn’t care for it.

Its artist, Paul Snover, said Thursday the controversial billboard that depicted Obama in several caricatures would remain for at least a month. He didn’t return e-mails or telephone calls to say why it’s been taken down, or if it would appear elsewhere.

Snover, who received numerous hate e-mails of his own about the sign, said he hoped to see it travel to other cities after the Nov. 2 elections.

The billboard depicted Obama as a terrorist, a gangster, a Mexican bandit and a gay man. After it was erected on Monday, Downey said her small parking lot often was filled with people who wanted a closer look.

“The problem was it was so detailed you couldn’t see it all until you got onto our lot,” she said. “The parking lot would be filled all the time. I don’t blame them for wanting to see it, but I’m happy it’s gone.”

Regardless of the sign’s removal, groups from around the state and the nation denounced its message, which Snover said was meant to highlight some of Obama’s programs that his client, whom he declined to identify, doesn’t care for.

Mi Familia Vota, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and One Colorado, a gay rights group, issued a joint statement Friday condemning the sign.

“The cowards behind the Grand Junction hate speech billboard should come forward and take it down immediately,” Jessie Ulibarri, state director for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, wrote in an e-mail. “Spewing hate behind a veil of secrecy and money allows discrimination and violence against immigrants and LGBT people to fester. Coloradans are tired of divisive politics, and we need to focus on the real issues facing our state, rather than creating false scapegoats for the ills of the world.”


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