Confirmed victory

Take down the offensive sign from your window front permanently.

This petition made change with 185 supporters!

Pleasant Surprise, a small boutique on Thayer Street in Providence, Rhode Island, has an offensive sign in their storefront that reads "Warning to Shoplifters: We do not prosecute shoplifters, our policy is to execute them. Don't Steal.” The poster includes a photograph of people that are about to be hanged.


Here is a description of the racial implications of this sign: “While the poster may not be explicitly racist, it plays off of racial biases. For example, theft and shoplifting aren't only committed by one race of people, but Black people are followed in stores, denied access to certain shops, and generally perceived as more likely to steal. This bias is less based in actual beliefs of racial superiority but are the result of images and structures that cultivate implicit and insidious discrimination and prejudice. Combined with the images of nooses which is historically connected to the persecution of Black people, this can evoke a racial image even if the actual people in the photo are white. Even if white people aren't necessarily recognizing that image, the insinuation within it could be distressing or upsetting for people of color, especially Black people."

I and several others have gone into the store more than six times over the past month to request that they remove the sign. The management refuses to take it down, saying that because the sign is at all of the store’s locations, store policy dictates that they cannot take it down. Their continued refusal to take down the sign, however, shows that they either do not recognize or do not care about the sign’s seriously problematic racial implications.

Since individual efforts to have the sign taken down have proved unsuccessful, we are now taking collective action. Please sign this petition to show your support for our cause, and tomorrow (Oct. 29th, 2014) we will deliver it as a group to the Pleasant Surprise on Thayer Street, to show them that we are not alone in finding the sign harmful. It is our hope that after our action tomorrow, the store will take down the sign permanently.

Today: Emma is counting on you

Emma Willis needs your help with “Pleasant Surprise: Take down the offensive sign from your window front permanently.”. Join Emma and 184 supporters today.