Controversial Billboards Coming Down, Counter Message Going Up

Most of the original billboards (top) were placed in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and their placement – and timing – spurred critics to decry them as voter suppression tools, designed to scare away Latinos, African-Americans, and ex-felons from the polls come Election Day.(Photo: Mandie Trimble/Brian Bull)
Most of the original billboards (top) were placed in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and their placement – and timing – spurred critics to decry them as voter suppression tools, designed to scare away Latinos, African-Americans, and ex-felons from the polls come Election Day.(Photo: Mandie Trimble/Brian Bull)

Advertising giant Clear Channel Outdoor says it’s tearing down 145 controversial billboards in Columbus, Cleveland and Milwaukee.

The advertisements began appearing three weeks ago, proclaiming “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY” over an imposing gavel. Most were placed in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and their placement – and timing – spurred critics to decry them as voter suppression tools, designed to scare away Latinos, African-Americans, and ex-felons from the polls come Election Day.

But Clear Channel says now it violated its own policy against anonymous political messages, and after consulting with its buyer, it’s been decided that the voter fraud billboards will come down immediately.

Cleveland Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland addressed her concerns with Clear Channel, and is delighted at the outcome.

“I certainly wish they’d never gone up, but I applaud Clear Channel for taking them down. There was some damage down, but it wasn’t irreparable harm. It’s now our job to make sure that people know what their rights are, and do what they need to do.”

Meanwhile, a campaign to counter the voter fraud billboards will continue as planned. They say, “Voting is a right, not a crime”.

Clear Channel donated ten, and the Cleveland City Council funded five more.

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