Arab American Institute - December 16, 2005
Advertising firm will not post racist billboards
in North Carolina
Washington DC, December 15, 2005 — The Arab American Institute (AAI) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) are pleased to announce that Lamar Advertising, has decided it will not post the extremely negative and misleading billboard ads for the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License. The company was initially set to post the ads in North Carolina. In a statement today, Lamar Advertising said that they, “flatly rejected this image and any other message that would be of a discriminatory nature…We can assure you that there will be no discriminating content on any of Lamar Advertising’s billboards for this or any other advertiser.”
Additionally, the public relations firm that helped design the ads has decided to discontinue business with the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, stating, “When we realized the tone of the campaign, we were no longer interested in representing the company.”
The billboards, which contain extremely negative and racist images of Arabs and Arab cultural symbols, misleadingly utilize false stereotypes and racist rhetoric to push an anti-immigrant agenda. For more information visit: http://www.aaiusa.org/press/2005/release12-08-05.htm
Both AAI and ADC are strong supporters of the freedoms granted in the First Amendment. We do not, however, support advertising that misleads the American public, transgresses the boundaries of responsible political discourse, and relies on stereotypes and hatemongering to support its views. The legislation that the Coalition supports denies driver’s licenses based on immigration status, not ties to terrorism.
AAI and ADC applaud Lamar Advertising for their responsible decision not to allow the use of their public space to contribute to misinformation and intolerance. We hope that outdoor advertising vendors nationwide will take the same principled stance.
We would also like to thank the over 100 organizations who endorsed letters to North Carolina Governor Michael Easley and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (the second state targeted in the billboard campaign) urging them to speak out against this hateful billboard campaign and oppose proposals that make the state driver's license less effective. The letters can be found at: http://www.aaiusa.org/PDF/Billboards%20_Easley_%2012%2005.pdf
Organizations joining ADC and AAI in opposing the billboard campaign include, the National Council of La Raza, Amnesty International-USA, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Asian American Justice Center among others.