An advertising agency has started a national campaign to put up Blue Lives Matter billboards across the country.
The effort, aimed at honoring fallen police officers, began in Memphis, Tennessee, and was led by firm Tactical Magic.
Lamar Advertising Company, based in Louisiana, then joined in – and billboards have since been spotted in Ohio, Michigan and Georgia.
They have been revealed towards the end of a year dominated by cases of police brutality and cops being killed on duty.
Tactical Magic’s creative director, Trace Hallowell, created the campaign initially to help honor local police officers.
He said: ‘The idea initially was to salute those men and women who serve us in law enforcement.
‘This time the message was simply to affirm the humanity of our men and women in uniform. No one should be a target of violence because of what they wear,’ he added.
Lamar Advertising Vice President of Governmental Relations Hal Kilshaw also said: ‘At Lamar Advertising Company, we are proud to support law enforcement.
‘We’re using our digital billboards to voice respect for police officers across the country who put their lives at risk every day to keep the public safe. This is our way of saying thank you.’
The campaign, using the phrase that was coined by the Black Lives Matter movement, has provoked a mixed response from community leaders and advocates.
Darel Ross, co-executive director of LINC Community Revitalization Inc in Grand Rapids, where one of the billboards was erected, told FOX 17: ‘I think in some aspects it’s shameful that the brand is being co-opted, but once again it was never meant to say ‘only black lives matter.