Black Lives Matter not welcome on billboards?
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 6/4/2020, 6 p.m.
Is Lamar Advertising, which owns a major share of the nation’s highway billboards, preventing clients from posting signs using the phrase “Black Lives Matter”?
A spokeswoman for the Baton Rouge, La.-based company said the company is not banning the slogan from its signs.
But Brian Robertson of Richmond-based Marion Marketing Global said Wednesday that two businesses he represents who had purchased space on Lamar digital billboards were rejected when they sought to change their message to include the slogan.
Mr. Robertson said the businesses were told that a slogan like “All Lives Matter” would be considered. He did not identify the businesses.
He said he was surprised, noting the company is usually open to allowing controversial messages.
For example, opponents of the proposed Navy Hill development plan in the city’s Downtown paid for billboard signs urging City Council to kill the $1.5 billion proposal.
The company also has allowed billboard signs that urged the firing of the University of Richmond basketball coach.
Allie McAlpin, a spokeswoman for Lamar, stated that the company “has accepted Black Lives Matter copy in the past, and we will continue to accept it. Lamar Advertising supports the First Amendment” and allows clients to convey “political, editorial, public service and other noncommercial messages.”
The company, itself, has identified with police and supported the “Blue Lives Matter” movement five years ago by splashing that slogan on 302 billboards across the country. That 2015 campaign led to criticism that the company’s action sought to minimize the Black Lives Matter movement that was surging at the time, largely in reaction to a police officer’s killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.