California billboards seen in LA and SF warn against moving to Texas by invoking mass shooting

Photo of Andrew Chamings
A billboard located at the intersection of Folsom and 7th St. in San Francisco appears to warn Bay Area residents from moving to Texas, in light of the Uvalde shooting. 

A billboard located at the intersection of Folsom and 7th St. in San Francisco appears to warn Bay Area residents from moving to Texas, in light of the Uvalde shooting. 

Charles Russo/SFGATE

A mysterious and controversial billboard warning people against moving from California to Texas looms over passersby in LA and San Francisco this week.

"The Texas miracle died in Uvalde. Don't move to Texas," the billboard reads, alongside the sinister image of a hooded figure and a crossed-out "Don't mess with Texas" slogan. The San Francisco billboard, leased to advertisers by FoxPoint Media, is currently up near the corner of Folsom and 7th Street.

"The Texas miracle" references a term championed by then-Governor Rick Perry in 2011 to highlight the Lone Star State's resilient economy that managed to escape the Great Recession relatively unscathed. "Don't mess with Texas" has long become the definitive call of swagger and pride from the state, though it started as an anti-littering campaign in the 1980s. 

Images of the billboards have been posted across LA, San Francisco and Texas subreddits over the last week, causing some anger and debate. 

The biggest question? Who is behind the ad, and what is their intent. The billboards show no party affiliation or sponsor. One theory states that the ad may have come from right-leaning Texans eager to keep liberal Californians away from their voting booths. Others thought that the message may have come from Californians in an attempt to slow an "exodus" to Texas. 

Census data shows that over recent years there has indeed been an increase in residents leaving California for Texas. In 2018 and 2019, the net migration was between 45,000 and 50,000 people per year, roughly double that of previous years. Several large tech companies also relocated their headquarters to Texas in recent years, including Tesla, Oracle and HP Enterprise. 

Others redditors were angered by the tastelessness of using a tragedy which took 22 lives, including 19 children, to message an interstate rivalry. One user described it as "the most disgusting use of political propaganda" on the Los Angeles subreddit. Another called it "pretty f—king evil."  

The rivalry and culture wars between the two states has rarely been so fierce, with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Texas Governor Greg Abbott battling in the media over guns and abortion, among other issues. 

SFGATE reached out to FoxPoint Media to gain information on who bought the ad, and what content restrictions they may have, but did not hear back at time of publication.