In advance of a controversial October 11 hearing that could result in Chapel Hill amending its advertising guidelines to prohibit political ads, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina has issued a vigorous defense of our First Amendment right to place ads in city buses calling on the United States to end military aid to Israel.
As the ACLU eloquently put it:
removing the ad solely because of disagreement with its content, as some officials have proposed, would constitute subject matter and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.According to the ACLU's October 1 press release:
“The freedom of citizens to express political beliefs without being censored by their government is one of the most basic and cherished rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook, who authored the letter. “In fact, speech that may be unpopular, controversial, or incite strong emotions is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect. We urge Chapel Hill officials to stand up for the free speech rights of their citizens by keeping the town’s bus ads open as a forum for public dialogue free of government censorship.”Read the ACLU's press release and the letter it sent to Chapel Hill officials here.
The ads are being paid for by the Chapel Hill-based Church of Reconciliation and feature Salim Shawamreh and Jeff Halper calling on us to "Build peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel."
Israel has demolished Salim's home in Israeli-occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem five times! Yet each time Israel illegally destroys Salim's home, he rebuilds it to defy Israel's attempts to drive him off of his land. Jeff's organization, the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, acts in solidarity with Salim and his family to help rebuild his home.
Salim and Jeff's ads are a powerful call to Americans to change our governmental policies that underwrite and enable Israel's oppression of Palestinians.
These ads are currently running in all 98 of Chapel Hill's buses and, with the backing of the ACLU, we are confident that they'll remain up for the duration of the contract.
Chapel Hill is the ninth U.S. city in which this ad campaign has appeared. Read more about the Chapel Hill ad campaign here.
Do you want to bring this ad campaign to your city? If so, let us know and we can help out.