MEMPHIS, Tenn,– Two billboards in Memphis are possibly grabbing more attention than usual after a group calling itself INDECLINE defaced them and called for the defunding of police.
Two defaced Geico insurance billboards greeted drivers at Interstate 40 eastbound near Watkins and I-40 west just north of Levee Road. They were defaced to say, “Defund Police. See All The Lives You Could Save.”
The billboards caught the attention of the Memphis Police Association.
MPA Steward and MPD Officer John Covington responded to the act by saying, “They’re entitled to that opinion, but that’s not where we are realistically as far as the crime that we’re fighting here in Memphis and, obviously, police are a big part that fight.”
In an email sent to WREG, the group refers to itself as guerrilla activists art collective INDECLINE. It says it took to the highways of Memphis to alter the message of two Geico insurance billboards with a call to defund police.
City council members Patrice Robinson and Frank Colvett said that’s the wrong message.
“Defunding the police is not what we mean, and we don’t want people to think that’s what we mean. What we really mean is we want to invest more in our young people and people who need support,” Robinson said.
“When the sad tragedy happened in Collierville, they raced into the building to try to solve the problem, when the shooting at (Cummings School) K-12 happened and recent home invasion of a Rhodes student, it’s the Memphis Police Department that needs our support,” said Colvett. “Not only fund the needs they (police) have, but also recruit and be able to recruit and get the numbers we all know the experts have said to get us to a more safe city.”
Indecline says it believes the reduction of the role that police play in our daily lives would benefit their safety as officers as much as ours as citizens.
The MPA says rather than defacing property, they’d rather discuss social change and policing.
“We’ve had a lot of those discussions over the last year and they’ve been productive. We’ve made changes and some folks on the different side came to some conclusions, too. We created some real bridges,” said Covington.
The group that defaced the Memphis billboards has apparently targeted other cities as well.