BOSTON The giant anti-gun billboard seen by tens of thousands of drivers along the Massachusetts Turnpike every day for nearly two decades is coming down.
The 250-foot-long billboard on a parking garage near Fenway Park has for 19 years displayed gun control messages. It currently promotes a federal assault weapons ban, and has an electronic counter displaying the number of Americans killed by guns since the December 2012 Connecticut school massacre – more than 45,000. Along the bottom of the billboard are 20 handprints representing the number of children killed in that mass shooting.
Real estate developer John Rosenthal, co-founder of the nonprofit group Stop Handgun Violence, put up the billboard in 1995 on the garage he owned.
“This has been the proudest accomplishment of my life,” he told The Boston Globe.
But he sold the garage to the parent company of the Boston Red Sox and under the agreement must remove the billboard by March.
Rosenthal hopes to find a new home for the billboard in an equally visible place. It is currently passed by about 150,000 vehicles per weekday.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll find a property owner who shares our concern about gun violence,” Rosenthal said. “We cannot afford to pay a high rent, and the billboard will just cease to exist if that’s the only option.”
Mayor Martin Walsh said he will support a new home in the city for the billboard, which he called “an eye-opening reminder of the tragedy of the crimes being perpetrated with guns across our nation.”
A spokeswoman for Fenway Sports Group would not comment on the possibility of an extension for the billboard.
The billboard has drawn the ire of gun rights advocates.
“It’s a waste of time and money on a billboard that hasn’t solved any problems,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, the Massachusetts affiliate of the National Rifle Association.
He hopes it finds a new home.