This weekend, ColorOfChange, the largest online civil rights organization, launched a new petition calling on Clear Channel to remove intimidating and misleading billboard ads in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin. An anonymous group has started running the ads, which highlight maximum punishments for “voter fraud” that is basically nonexistent, creating a sense of fear around voting that is both dangerous and unwarranted.
The billboards are hosted by Clear Channel, a media conglomerate owned by Bain Capital — the same company that Mitt Romney co-founded. Clear Channel has tried to avoid any responsibility for the ads, saying that the group who paid for them is responsible for the content. But Clear Channel has rejected billboard ads many times in the past on the basis that they were deemed inappropriate or politically motivated.
The following is a statement from ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson:
"Clear Channel and Bain Capital's decision to allow an anonymous advertiser to create a climate of fear around voting in Black and Latino communities is shameful. This decision speaks volumes about the values and level of integrity at Clear Channel and Bain Capital. These billboards are clearly designed to intimidate voters, and they’re part of a coordinated right-wing attack on the voting rights of people of color. In the past, ColorOfChange members and our allies have responded loud and clear to attempts to suppress our community’s vote. This situation is no exception—since Saturday, more than 41,000 people have signed our petition demanding that these billboards be taken down immediately.
Black folks will not be intimidated this election season. We demand that Clear Channel and Bain Capital stop allowing their media platforms to be used by nameless and faceless individuals and institutions seeking to send us back to the days when fear and intimidation were part of the common voting experience for many Black Americans.”
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With more than 800,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest Black online civil rights organization.