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Rumor: Photograph shows a billboard condemning the lack of municipal support for police, put up in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.

Published May 5, 2015

Claim:   Photograph shows a billboard condemning the lack of municipal support for police, put up in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray.


TRUE: This photograph shows a real billboard put on display in Baltimore.
FALSE: The billboard was put up shortly after six police officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2015]

Saw this on facebook. Wondering if it is a real billboard.


Origins:   On 5 May 2015, the Facebook group "First-In FireFighter" posted a photograph purportedly showing a billboard in Baltimore that displayed a message condemning the mayor and city council's lack of support for Baltimore police and firefighters. Although that Facebook posting did not specify when the billboard in question was put on display, the photograph did spark a conversation about how the city of Baltimore has responded to demonstrations occurring in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death while in police custody:

Although the above-displayed image does show a real billboard visible in Baltimore, that sign and its message had nothing to do with the death of Freddie Gray. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Billboard was put up back in 2010 after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake approved a controversial pension reform law:

Baltimore's FOP and firefighter's union are furious over a pension reform law approved by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake earlier this summer. They filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to halt the pension changes and claiming the city "knowingly underfunded" the pension for a decade.

Today, as Justin Fenton reports on the Baltimore Crime Beat blog, the unions posted a billboard saying "Welcome to Baltimore, Home to a Mayor & City Council who turned their backs on our Police & Firefighters."

Firefighters union president Bob Sledgeski says the unions will continue to turn up the heat on the mayor and council as next year's elections approach.

"We'll see this from now until next September," says Sledgeski. "Our members have been at the protests, they've been at the rallies, they've been at the fundraisers and they're going to continue to come out."


In short, this billboard was about a protest about police (and firefighter) pension plans in 2010, not about charges leveled at six police officers for a suspect's death in 2015.

Last updated:   5 May 2015


    Scharper, Julie.   "Pension Issue at the Polls."

    Baltimore Sun.   2 August 2010.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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