March 25, 2014 3:47 pm
Updated: March 25, 2014 6:44 pm

‘Obscene’ posters in Halifax have police, city mulling legal action

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HALIFAX – Posters in Halifax depicting women as shoplifters, child abusers, prostitutes and baby dumpers are drawing enormous outcry from the public and the possibility of legal action from police and the city.

The posters, which carry the message “Don’t Be That Girl”, were put up around Citadel High and the police station on Gottingen Street.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais said police were alerted to them Monday morning and quickly took them down.

“How could somebody put something up like this? The message was very disquieting,” he said.

Police were notified because their logo appeared on the bottom of the poster, which gave the appearance of endorsing the misogynistic message.

Blais said those responsible did not have the right to use the police logo.

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“We do not endorse the unauthorized use of our logo, but more importantly we don’t endorse the messaging that’s on these flyers,” he said.

“This is a message that’s clearly opposite to the type of messaging we’re sending out. It’s offensive in some regards. It’s obscene. This is something we don’t condone in any way, shape or form.”

The posters appear to be a play on the police campaign entitled “Don’t Be That Guy“, which seeks to end violence against women.

Blais said he believes the banner of logos on the bottom of their campaign posters — logos that include not just police logos, but those of other community groups — was copied and pasted onto the offending posters.

Many organizations were not aware their logos had been used without permission.

In a statement released to Global News, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre said it did not consent to the use of its logo, and that the organization “is not a supporter of the ‘Don’t Be That Girl’ ‘posters which have been circulated in Halifax.” It also said it “strongly disagree[s] with the messages of these posters.”

Bryony House released a similar statement to Global News, saying, “We do not have any affiliation of this campaign and did not authorize use of our logo.”

Dean Esmay, managing editor for A Voice For Men, which has campaigned strongly against the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign, said he supports the Halifax chapter that put up the posters.

“The posters are parody,” he told Global News over the phone from Detroit, Michigan. “They point out the hatefulness and the inappropriateness of the [campaign].”

“If you think the [Don’t Be That Girl] posters are offensive and inappropriate, we tend to agree. If you’re looking at those posters and saying they’re misogynist, why don’t you think [the other posters] are? It’s the same thing.”

Esmay said he does not know if the local organization crossed the line legally by using the HRP logo but he defends them.

“We will absolutely stand by their message. We’ll be sorry they made that minor mistake of using a logo like that when they shouldn’t. We’ll call it a small mistake and probably an honest mistake,” he said.

Blais said the posters themselves are not criminal but the police force and the municipality are pursuing legal action for the unauthorized use of the police logo.

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