Friday, February 25, 2011

Council Member James Comments on Removal of Offensive Billboard Targeting Abortion in Black Community

**For Immediate Release**
February 24, 2011

Contact: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191

Statement by Council Member Letitia James About Anti-Abortion Billboard in SoHo Coming Down: We Won

(Brooklyn, NY)- The Office of Council Member Letitia James received confirmation today from Women of Color Network (NYU) and LAMAR Outdoor Advertising that a billboard (located on Corner of Watts and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan) paid for by Life Always targeting abortion in the black community, will be removed. Mr. Peter Costanza, Vice President and General Manager of LAMAR, agreed to take down the billboard featuring an African-American young girl with an offensive tag-line stating “The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb.” Community activists, women’s rights advocates, civil rights leaders, elected officials, people of color and others agreed that the content underlying this billboard was racial profiling, and demeaning to African-American women and communities. The enormous outcry against this billboard reflects the true purpose of this politically motivated campaign as being an attack on pro-choice, as well as Planned Parenthood located nearby.

“I truly believe that our collective quick action, phone calls and letters to the company are directly responsible for their decision to pull the ad. However, we must remain vigilant. Life Always is committed to spreading the campaign throughout country and there are continued threats to access to the full range of reproductive health services for low-income women and communities,” said C. Nicole Mason, Executive Director, Women of Color Policy Network, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. “This billboard is only one of the many attacks on reproductive freedom and services for low-income women across the country. Both the House and Presidential budgets propose to eliminate critical funding to programs that provide services to women and families.”

Council Member James said: “This victory is a sweet one for all involved, especially as Black History Month 2011 ends. The billboard coming down is symbolic for the power of the human spirit, the power of social media and angry women, as well as reinforces the notion that nothing is more dangerous than a made up mind. An innocent face got caught in the middle of the controversy; yet the young girl’s expression speaks of only strength, life, and love, not race or gender based politics. I support woman having the right to make personal choices in regards to what’s best for their body, and I will continue to respect many different points of view. Congratulations to everyone for swift action, and I would like to share the following sentiment sent to me via e-mail by a friend that accurately sums up the positive ending to such a negative beginning: Great Work! Score one for the good guys / gals / men / women / brethren / sistren in the ongoing battle with the barbarians! Simply put, the community put up a good fight and we won.”

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