Cops Post “Welcome to Baltimore” Billboard – Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, social media lit up with reports that Baltimore police had posted a “Welcome to Baltimore” billboard that claimed the mayor and city council had “turned their backs” on police and firefighters in the city.
The Welcome to Baltimore billboard was posted in the city, but not after the death of Freddie Gray.
Unions for Baltimore police and firefighters put the Welcome to Baltimore billboard up in August 2010 during a squabble over pensions, the Baltimore Sun reports:
“This billboard appears to have sprouted up over the weekend in view of City Hall at the mouth of I-83, the latest salvo in the fight over pensions for city police and fire fighters. A spokeswoman for the unions say it will be up throughout the month of August.
“Changes in the pension system – which strip more money from the paychecks of officers and firefighters – were made necessary by a deficit in the police and fire retirement fund that could have cost the cash-strapped city $65 million. That problem came as the mayor had to close a $121 million budget shortfall by raising taxes and new fees.
“Union officials have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city of purposely underfunding the pension system and arguing that the changes violate contractual labor agreements.”
A photo of the billboard resurfaced on social media in May 2015 after six police officers were arrested in the death of Freddie Gray. Many assumed that the Welcome to Baltimore billboard had just been put up, but that wasn’t the case.
However, the Baltimore Police Union has been vocal in its support for the arrested officers. The union started an online #MyLifeMatters campaign to support the police officers. The Baltimore Police Union also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for legal fees for the officers arrested in Freddie Gray’s death.