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Overpass Light Brigade takes on intimidating billboards in Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee, the Overpass Light Brigade responds with its signature
approach to billboards designed to intimidate minority voters.
Some belated but welcome news on the voter suppression front. Some 145 billboards mostly in minority areas of Ohio and Wisconsin warning of big penalties for voting fraud were slated to start coming down Monday.

Of course, some unknown amount of damage has already been accomplished no matter what happens now.

The billboards depict a judge's gavel and the text "Voter Fraud is a felony—up to 3 1/2 years and a $10,000 fine.” They appeared in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee. Civil rights advocates and labor leaders had objected to the billboards as being meant to intimidate minorities and keep them from voting. The ads were hung in early October on the billboards, which are owned by Clear Channel Outdoor. The company initially said it would leave them up even though it conceded that it was a mistake to put them in the first place. The billboards were paid for by an anonymous contributor.

But Clear Channel Outdoor reversed course over the weekend, saying that it was against company policy to allow for anonymity with political advertising. The company usually requires that ads have the name of the purchaser at the bottom.

After discussions, the sponsor, whom Clear Channel Outdoor has called a "private family foundation" but declined to name, "thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them," the company said in a statement.

Crews on Monday will begin taking down 30 billboards in Cleveland, 30 in Columbus and 85 in Milwaukee, Jim Cullinan, vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, told Reuters.

Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, one of the most vocal critics of the billboards, told Reuters on Sunday: "Needless to say I'm happy they will be taken down but I want to know who was behind this in the first place."

Under pressure from the community Clear Channel Outdoor also donated 10 billboards around the Cleveland area that read "Voting Is a Right. Not a Crime!"

Many Americans may have thought otherwise given the Republican efforts this year to suppress the vote in various ways. To get the message across that voting is a right, there ought to be a public service announcement in every daily newspaper and on television and radio several times a day right through Nov. 6.

Sign up to help get Democratic voters to the polls in swing states with Workers' Voice, the largest independent Democratic voter turnout operation in the country. You can participate no matter where you live.

•••

noise of rain has a terrific post up about anti-billboard action.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Daily Kos.

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