The Fresno Bee has written an updated article concerning the vandalized billboard.
Atheism billboard in Fresno hit by vandalism
Posted at 01:31 PM on Friday, May. 06, 2011
By Jim Guy / The Fresno Bee
A Blackstone Avenue billboard that says it’s OK to be an atheist lasted just two days before it was struck by vandalism, but the people behind the message say they aren’t going away.
The billboard at Blackstone and Saginaw avenues in central Fresno reads: "Don’t believe in God? Join the club."
On Friday morning, the word "don’t" was partially erased and the signature of a graffiti tagger was placed below the message.
The billboard was put up by the Central Valley Coalition of Reason, a collection of three Valley atheist groups, with $5,176 in funding from the Washington, D.C.-based United Coalition of Reason.
"This shows loud and clear just how necessary our message is, because prejudice against people who don’t believe in a god remains very real in America," said David Costa, coordinator of the Valley group.
The tagger may have been just as interested in getting his signature on the sign as he was in altering the message, Costa added.
"He definitely wanted to be known," he said, adding that the vandal had to climb to change the wording.
The word that was erased "is so high, they must have gone out of their way to alter the message."
Fresno police spokesman Lt. Burke Farrah said he was unaware of the vandalism.
Fred Edwords, national director for the United Coalition of Reason, said the group will ask CBS Outdoor, the owner of the sign, to fix the damage as soon as possible.
"If necessary, we will pay the cost of printing up new vinyl and have this billboard’s original message bright and clear in short order," he said in a statement.
The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or (559) 441-6339.