RED BANK: RACIAL IMAGE DRAWS FIRE
Zoning board member Sharon Lee addressing billboard company attorney Jennifer Krimko Thursday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
A Red Bank zoning board member ripped into representatives of a billboard company for what she called an “offensive” depiction of black males in its application materials Thursday night.
The photo cited by Lee in Outfront Media’s exhibits. (Click to enlarge.)
At the board’s hearing on a proposed giant digital billboard for the northern gateway into town, a lawyer and executive of Outfront Media LLC leaned hard on the “community benefit” they said the town would get from the device, if approved.
Among those benefits, said attorney Jennifer Krimko: the borough government’s ability to display emergency notices, such as Amber alerts, which would override the company’s scheduled rotation of paid campaigns.
Included in Outfront’s print exhibits were photos of three emergency messages used by unidentified municipalities. One showed a missing girl, aged 13; another showed a missing 5-year-old child.
The third show a billboard displaying the photo of Lamont Stephenson, who was added to the FBI’s most-wanted fugitive list in 2018 for a murder four years earlier in Newark. He was captured the following year in Maryland, not long after authorities said he’d committed a second murder.
Board member Sharon Lee, objected to the image.
“You are a messaging company. That is what you do,” said Lee, a former council member. “The only black male who shows up in this is someone wanted for murder. I find it offensive. I find it just so out of pace with where we’re trying to go.
“You could do better,” Lee continued. “You’re presenting to the council [sic] in a diverse town, and you could do better. Whether it’s Outfront marketing, whether it’s you who made the copy, whether it’s a secretary, doesn’t matter. This is not the message you want to present to the town.”
“I appreciate the comment,” said Krimko. “I apologize on behalf of the applicant for not noticing that, and for including it, and we will do better.”
The exchange lasted less than a minute.
If you value the news coverage provided by redbankgreen, please become a paying member. Click here for details about our new, free newsletter and membership information.