Metro

Dozens of billboards to replace landmark Mass. Pike sign

New sites donated as sign is removed

John Rosenthal, founder and president of Stop Handgun Violence, in front of the landmark billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

John Rosenthal, founder and president of Stop Handgun Violence, in front of the landmark billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The Newton nonprofit that for two decades sponsored the eye-grabbing billboard along the Massachusetts Turnpike that inveighed against gun violence is promising to keep that message fresh in the minds of motorists with a new series of targeted ads.

Beginning Tuesday, Stop Handgun Violence will be “saturating” highway signs at three-dozen locations across the state, an interim solution until cofounder John Rosenthal finalizes construction of the Fenway Center complex over the turnpike.

Advertisement

The new highway signs being installed this week will read, “We’re Not Anti-Gun. We’re Pro-Life. Massachusetts Gun Laws Save Lives,” and feature a Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle, with a white surrender flag poking out from the barrel.

Billboard space was donated by Clear Channel, Logan Communications, Total Outdoor, and Outfront Media, Rosenthal said. All but four of the signs will be on digital displays.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“It will be huge coverage,” Rosenthal said. “Having billboards all over the state that are literally positioned to have maximum exposure from the highways is a huge win.”

The campaign comes as Rosenthal bids farewell to the iconic 252-foot-long billboard affixed to the Lansdowne Street parking garage he once owned.

The large billboard was given a March deadline for removal, after Rosenthal sold the garage to the Red Sox’s parent company in 2013. He expects the sign will come down within the next 30 days.

Advertisement

An estimated 150,000 drivers a day have cruised by that billboard, taking in variations of the message plastered there for 20 years.

“It’s sad. I don’t have kids, and that billboard campaign I started . . . is as close to a kid as I have had, and it’s hard letting go,” Rosenthal said.

To launch the latest campaign, Rosenthal said he called billboard companies across the Commonwealth, who offered their services.

“When we realized he would no longer have his . . . billboard to get out the message about gun control, we offered to utilize some of our space,” said Stephen Ross, president of the Boston division of Clear Channel Outdoor.

“It was easy for us to make a huge impact on such an important message.”

While Stop Handgun Violence, which pushes to reduce gun deaths without banning firearms, has seen considerable support for the latest campaign, some people aren’t too keen on the new signs.

Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, laughed at the words and imagery used for the billboard when a reporter described it.

‘That billboard campaign I started . . . is as close to a kid as I have had, and it’s hard letting go.’ --John Rosenthal, Cofounder of Stop Handgun Violence

Quote Icon

“I don’t know what a white flag has to do with their message,” he said.

Wallace called Rosenthal’s turnpike billboard an “eyesore,” and said it hasn’t amounted to anything in the 20 years since it was installed. He expects the same could be said about Rosenthal’s latest push.

“The billboards are ineffective. I don’t think they have any effect at all, and I don’t think they’ve had any effect on firearm safety in general,” he said.

Rosenthal disagreed.

He said the messages on the turnpike, which in the past included imprints of hands representing the children and teachers killed in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 have helped drive the conversation about gun violence on a national level.

He said when the Fenway Center complex is complete, that conversation will be even more robust, because the building will be constructed over the highway and have more space for permanent signs.

“We are going to come back with a big, permanent billboard that will continue to keep this debate alive for the rest of time,” Rosenthal said. “There’s potential for the billboards to be the first and last thing you see coming in and out of Boston.”

Stop Handgun Violence

A rendering of what the new signs being installed this week will look like.

Related Coverage:

Gun control group required to move billboard along Pike

Pike antigun billboard tracks gun deaths post-Newtown

Fenway billboard again a canvas for gun-control message

Gun control message is put across

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com