FRITCH, TX (CBSDFW.COM) — A Texas billboard that sparked controversy and death threats online after going viral on social media this week has been removed. That according to the company that manages the sign.
“The billboard advertising ‘Liberals keep driving’ is now down,” Randy Burkett of Burkett Outdoor Advertising said in a statement to CBS 11 Thursday. “The client who paid for the Liberal sign requested [it] come down after only being up 24 hours,” he continued.
The sign originally read “Liberals, Please continue on I-40 until you have left our great State of Texas.”
Kyle Mccallie of Fritch, TX posted the image on his Facebook page Tuesday and the post quickly attracted attention on social media. “Billboard 6 miles east of Vega on I-40 east bound! I like it,” Mccallie said in the post.
According to Burkett the Amarillo Convention Visitors Council has now leased the sign. “The billboard will now say Welcome Y’all to Amarillo,” said Burkett. “Their ad will be up on the billboard tomorrow.”
The post on Mccallie’s Facebook page of the original billboard has since received over 20,000 views as of Thursday.
As the number of shares increased, so too did the death threats.
Burkett told CBS 11 News yesterday afternoon that the unidentified client wanted the billboard removed. “We’re a firm believer in First Amendment rights,” said Burkett. But he said the client told him that his intention was not to divide the country and wanted to remove the billboard.
Mccallie meantime told CBS 11 News he had received at least ten threats from people saying they were going to show up at his house and “snap his neck.” “Lots of hate mail and death threats. But lots of ‘we love it’ also,” said Mccallie.
Mccallie posted one of the threats he allegedly received on his Facebook feed with the message “We’ve gotta hater on our hands!” The message from a person identified as James J Wallace appeared to be a clear threat telling Mccallie to “expect a visit” calling him a “small town country bumpkin” – as well as some other expletives that cannot be printed here. Mccallie responded, “Would you like to have a beer or something? I’m not sure what you’re getting at?”
“I don’t need a gun to snap your neck you little punk,” allegedly read another message sent to Mccallie.
Mccallie seems to be taking the situation – and threats – in stride but he says he is keeping an eye out. “I think they are just keyboard warriors and telephone tough guys,” said Maccallie. “If they show up and have beef at my house then I will handle it accordingly.” He has a message for anyone who would show up with ill intentions. “Don’t enter someone else’s property without permission is all I can say!”
According to KYTX-TV, Mccallie saw the sign on Tuesday along a route he travels regularly for work.
Burkett said he has received many calls from media. He said he has also received threats and that his web site has crashed several times.
Still no word on who the client was that hired Burkett Outdoor Advertising to post the billboard. Burkett said they do not release the names of clients.