North Carolina billboard sparks plans for protest

(WSPA Photo)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – A billboard in western North Carolina is sparking plans for a protest.

Spicer Greene Jewelers in Asheville is apologizing for their attempt at a play on words. The billboard overlooking I-240 reads “Sometimes, it’s okay to throw rocks at girls” among a flurry of sparkling gems.

The billboard has been up only since Monday but some people say it needs to come down.

“We’ve used billboards but none this controversial,” said Eva-Michelle Spicer.  She and her husband Elliot are fourth-generation owners of the jewelry store, which has been operating for over 90 years.

“The location of this billboard.. We have a yearly contract so we change them up periodically and I think it gets 250-thousand eyes per week,” said Elliot Spicer.

They said they didn’t expect controversy with their marketing effort, and penned a message on their Facebook page.

“It’s a condescending way to think about adult women,” said women’s rights activist Ellen Perry. “They’re not children who need jewelry thrown at them.”

She said the billboard needs to come down.

“I have a goddaughter whose 8 years old and I look ahead for her,” said Perry. “It [billboard] trivializes violence. It sends that message.. ‘Oh when little boys like you they’re going to throw things at you.’”

The Spicers say that’s not the message they were aiming for.

“Domestic violence is definitely not something to be joked about,” said Eva-Michelle Spicer. “It was our attempt at humor and it was meant to be reminiscent of playground days.”

She says they have had people asking to them to keep the billboard.

“We’re truly sorry…That it was misinterpreted that way,” said Eva-Michelle Spicer.

Though they’re working to remove it, the Spicers say that can’t happen immediately.

“We are not going to stop until we see that billboard come down because it’s doing damage, even if we want to laugh it off and say it’s just a joke,” said Perry.

That protest is still planned for this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in front of Spicer Greene Jewelry on Patton Avenue.

The owners say they are giving 10 percent of all sales this weekend to Helpmate — a local group that works to combat domestic violence.