Rape crisis center will keep Hampstead ad Caller to radio show says billboard photo is racist

October 06, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

A Hampstead billboard advertising the services of a local rape crisis center will remain on display despite complaints about its content, center officials said yesterday.

"The billboard is scheduled to come down Nov. 6 and will remain there until then," said Jo Ann Hare, executive director of Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County, the group using the advertisement.

The billboard ad, on the eastbound side of Route 88, became the focus of public debate Wednesday after a caller complained about it on a local radio talk show. The caller said the photograph displayed on the billboard is racist.

Despite that publicity, Hare said, she has heard little reaction to the ad, which includes a photograph of a man's hand clasping a woman's with a caption that explains, "He's not holding her hand. He's holding her down."

The caller said the image appears to have racist undertones because the man's hand is darker than the woman's.

"We've received only eight calls," Hare said. "Of those, two were Carroll residents and six lived outside the county. Only one person, a man, made unfavorable comments."

The billboard advertisement -- the first to be used by the crisis center in its 20-year history -- has been on display for about a month.

The photograph used on the advertisement was produced by the National Victim Center in Arlington, Va.

This is the first time the photograph has caused a public controversy, said Diane Alexander, director of the center's Library and Field Services. She could not identify the man in the photo and did not know his race.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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