Group protests against censorship of Valdosta billboards | New
VALDOSTA – Tom Hochschild led a protest on Tuesday, fighting what he calls a “free speech issue” against a billboard company in Valdosta.
Hochschild, representing the Georgians for the impeachment of Brian Kemp, said he wanted a billboard displaying the phrases “Stop Voter Suppression” and “Impeach Kemp”, alongside a Republican boot printed with elephants crushing them. hands of various races reaching out.
He said that under an earlier court order, the Roger Budd company is contractually obligated to implement his design.
“We have a signed contract with the Roger Budd Company that our group, Georgians for the Impeachment of Brian Kemp, can put up any billboard or billboard we want,” Hochschild said.
He said the Roger Budd Company was refusing to display the billboard even though the group had a month left with the contract, which grew out of a similar issue.
In 2018, the group, then known as Georgians for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, paid for a billboard that read “Impeach” with a photo of President Donald Trump. It went on for just one day before the Roger Budd company took down the billboard.
The group sued company Roger Budd, which resulted in a July 2, 2020 court ruling that required the company to honor a one-year contract with the group, allowing it to set up a billboard at a monthly rate of $ 430 for 12 months.
Hochschild said the company rejected the Kemp billboard because it now had a “negative publicity” policy.
Hochschild said he believes the Roger Budd company is trying to slow down until the contract ends. The company has already decided not to renew.
“We are filing a contempt action against Roger Budd, so I hope the judge and the courts will see that he does not respect the court ruling and force him to comply and put it in place,” a- he declared.
Thinking back to the ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ sign, Hochschild said his group’s billboard said essentially the same thing.
It is clear that there is a precedent for putting up political signs. The problem is that billboard companies in Lowndes County and South Georgia as a whole prefer to display Republican signs, he said.
“They tend not to display Democratic, Liberal or Progressive billboards,” he said.
Hochschild, referring to the “Impeach Donald Trump” billboard, said the group had tried several other billboard companies before the Roger Budd Company, but none of them set it up.
His group was excited to hear it was going to work with the company, but what good is a contract if the parties don’t live up to it, he said.
Michael Noll, a representative for the Valdosta Coalition for Peace and Justice, said the Roger Budd company’s refusal to display the billboard is coupled with a refusal to share all views.
He said if you want to have a billboard that criticizes the Republican Party or a presidential candidate, it is very difficult to get it posted.
“It’s very easy for those who are more conservative to get their messages across,” Noll said. “We should all be able to share our views, period.”
David Jonathan “DJ” Davis, president of the Anthropology Sociology Club ACTION at Valdosta State University, said people must stand up for free speech.
Davis said he tried unsuccessfully to reach the Roger Budd Company regarding a different issue – changing the name of Forrest Street and Forrest Street Extension. Budd owns a property across the street.
Mark George, coordinator of the Mary Turner project, said he believes in and sees freedom of expression as a rejection of it – a rejection of democratic and good neighborly values.
“It’s not very friendly to censor anyone,” said George. “It’s about responsibility and whether or not we believe in these values that everyone is talking about on conservative radio.”
The refusal to display the group’s billboard is an extension of the media, said George, especially when you live in a place dominated by conservative values that control local broadcasting and signage.
Even though people there might say they believe in free speech, their actions betray that message, he said.
“The simple question is does Mr. Budd believe in free speech?” said Georges.
Attempts to reach the Roger Budd company were met with a “no comment” from a company representative.