Sunoco Cuts Ties with John Placek, Owner of Racist Billboards in Armstrong County

This update caught my attention last night.

Sunoco said Wednesday it is halting fuel deliveries to an Armstrong County gas station because its owner posted controversial messages to a digital billboard about a quarter-mile away.

The fuel giant also started removing Sunoco signage and trademarks from the Worthington station, according to company officials.

The digital billboard along Route 422, owned by John Placek, displayed messages in recent weeks that Sunoco deemed offensive and racist.

“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 to the Tribune-Review. “I can confirm that we have terminated our business relationship with this site.”

I knew Placek had reportedly owned the franchise, but he said he had sold his business assets. So this is a bit of a surprise, one that I cannot describe as pleasant of course – but constructive. So good for everyone who called Sunoco and raised their awareness.

The billboard itself has apparently been disabled by some act of vandalism so it is unclear how John Placek will respond to all of this. It is unlikely he’ll go quietly into the good night.

The community is responding with statements of support for all of their neighbors. Small groups are stepping forward to speak up, but there’s as of yet no visible community led effort to resist the manifestation of white supremacy in Worthington, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

If you see handmade signs or other images, please take a picture and send it to us pghlesbian at gmail dot com. It would be nice to have as least as many images of hope & resistance as I do of the hateful images.

Steps You Can Take

  • Create your own sign and display it with the message YOU want people to hear from Worthington
  • Contact State Representative Jeff Pyle in response to his video statement, urging him to participate in anti-racism training work himself and to proactively reach out to Black constituents to engage them around this issue. Representative Pyle’s offices can be reached by phone (724) 763-3222 and (724) 295-2200 and (717) 783-5327. You can email him [email protected] and find him on Facebook here as well as Tweet at him @RepJeffPyle
  • Tweet at the companies showing support for residents @SunocoRacing  @Subway and @Snoopy – the Peanuts Worldwide Syndicate was one of the first to respond to the perversion of their copyrights.
  • Contact the Worthington Fire Department and encourage them to do the right thing about the lease. Contact them Phone: (724) 297-3473 Fax: (724) 297-5913 and on Facebook.
  • Zoning (aka regulation) is one way to address the bigger issue. In this case, PennDOT does not have any zoning in place but that doesn’t mean they cannot change their regulation of this or any other road. There are also thousands of miles of local roads that have no zoning when it comes to billboards – people with enough money can display anything they like.  So call your municipality and ask about billboard zoning. Educate yourself and if necessary, take action to create change.

 

Worthington, Armstrong County
Handmade signs placed at the intersection where the billboard is located

 

Subway racist billboards worthington
Subway adjacent to Sunoco. Photo: James Martinez, Tribune-Review

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