NEW YORK – In a direct message to US President Donald Trump, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted several billboards with the first amendment written in Arabic, reminding viewers that the US Constitution protects every individual’s right to freedom of speech and religion.
“I grew up in Virginia, in Thomas Jefferson’s backyard, so we were raised with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as local history, as something living and very real,” Eric Verkerke, co-founder and chief creative officer of New York agency Emergence Creative, told Adweek.com.
“The Constitution applies to everyone, and those principles translate into any language.”
Emergence agency partnered with ACLU this month to launch a campaign confirming that “We the People” means everyone.
The campaign consists of a series of billboards running in and around the Times Square area until June 25 along with bus-stop ads in DC.
They are running in English, Spanish and Arabic to reinforce the campaign’s themes of universal rights, and they’re supplemented by 15-second videos airing twice an hour on the massive screens at the corner of 43rd Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
The First Amendment to that document reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Verkerke and fellow agency co-founder Raj Pannu approached the ACLU with the idea in December after Trump’s surprise election victory.
“I knew we had to do it,” said the ACLU’s associate director of strategic communications, Stacy Sullivan.
“So much of the work we do at the ACLU revolves around the First Amendment. Seeing it translated into other languages, at a time when President Trump’s rhetoric has been so hostile to immigrants, really struck a chord with us.”
Last March, Trump signed a revised executive order banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States but removing Iraq from the list, after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts.
The new order, which the White House said Trump had signed, keeps a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.