Sunoco cuts ties with Pa. gas station owner over Antwon Rose billboard
The signage for Sunoco is covered at the service station where Sunoco has cut ties with the station owner on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Worthington, Pa. The owner had a digital billboard last week that flashed a racial slur and praised the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
(Worthington) — Sunoco has cut ties with an Armstrong County gas station owner after a digital billboard flashed a racial slur and praised the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen.
The billboard is owned by John Placek and is about a quarter mile from the gas station.
Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted of a homicide charge last week in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II. After the jury’s verdict, a digital billboard in Worthington displayed photos of Rosfeld and Rose. The message branded Rose a “criminal” and said, “Legal System Works, Justice Served, Get over it.” A separate message included a racial slur and asked why black people can use the slur while white people can’t.
The Tribune-Review reports that Sunoco halted fuel deliveries and removed Sunoco signage from the station.
“At Sunoco, we believe racism and bias in any form are simply unacceptable. Those representing the independently owned Sunoco-branded sites are expected to uphold our values on this topic. These offensive billboards are unacceptable and do not represent our values and beliefs in any way,” Sunoco spokeswoman Alyson Gomez said in a statement. “I can confirm that we have terminated our business relationship with this site.”
The Associated Press left a phone message at one of Placek’s businesses Thursday. He told WPXI-TV in a phone interview that he knew he had pushed the envelope but was trying to promote racial dialogue, the station reported.