Following a heated local battle, 60 anti-choice billboards targeting the black community have been removed from the streets of Oakland. Early reaction was positive.
When asked to comment, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said:
“Our focus going forward is on increasing access to health care for women and families. We honor the legacy of Oakland’s African-American community by ensuring that in the future all residents can get the care and services they need without shame or stigma.”
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Residents and community organizations in Oakland organized swiftly to pressure CBS Outdoor to remove the billboards, having noted the racist attempt to single out a group of women and shame them for making a private medical decision.
Oakland resident and organizer Alicia Walters said:
“We have been considered easy targets before by slick marketing campaigns for cigarettes and liquor. This time is no different. Rather than addressing the root causes of unintended pregnancy, the goal here is to roll back reproductive and civil rights.”
These billboards are part of a national effort being led by a few small organizations. The billboards compare abortion to slavery and genocide, and allege that black children are an “endangered species.” Their most controversial billboard stunned commuters in New York City. It read, “The Most Dangerous Place for an African American is in the Womb.” After a similar protest from local residents and activists, the billboard was quickly removed. The mother of the child whose image was used in the billboard also objected.
Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ), along with other organizations, launched an email campaign to encourage CBS Outdoor to remove the billboards because of their offensive content. They were able to generate thousands of emails to the company in a matter of days.
Eveline Shen of ACRJ said, “We have the momentum to ensure that these racist billboards never return to our city. There is a movement that stands behind women of color and right build strong families if, when and how we choose.”