Lamar Outdoor Advertising Bows to Pro-Israel Pressure: Removes Billboards and Stifles Freedom of Speech

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — An Albuquerque-based billboard company pulled ten billboards on April 28, 2009 that had featured a political message. The contract between a local grassroots group, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, and Lamar Outdoor Advertising was supposed to be for eight weeks; the billboards were taken down after only three weeks.

Correspondence from Lamar indicated that the company had received complaints about the billboards’ message, which said: “Tell Congress: Stop Killing Children.  No More Military Aid to Israel.”

The Coalition has scheduled a meeting with Lamar officials on Friday.  In the meantime, supporters are phoning Lamar to request the billboards be put back up.

On April 8th, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel erected the billboards throughout the Albuquerque area in order to inform the public about the misuse of their tax dollars, denominated in human lives.  The group was motivated by concern for the Palestinian people who had recently been subjected to a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.  Over 1,400 Palestinians — mostly civilian, including three hundred children — were killed and over 5,000 were injured.  In 2007 the Bush administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel over a ten-year period beginning in 2008.  The majority of these dollars will be used to purchase American-made weapons.

The design of the billboard had been approved by Lamar and the billboards’ wording and final image were suggested by Lamar’s graphics designer.

According to information from Lamar, it appears that pro-Israel groups may have conducted a campaign to pressure Lamar to remove the billboards.  The Coalition believes this is a deliberate attempt to silence its right to free speech because the humanitarian message of the billboards supports equal rights for the Palestinian people, thereby necessitating criticism of Israel.

Billboard before it was taken down.

Billboard being taken down.

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