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Friday, October 28, 2016

Signs of trouble are rising like the ghosts of Jim Crow in the heart of Cleveland’s African-American community.

Billboards, lots of billboards, looming large and menacing where black citizens live.

Across the street from a public housing development.

Near the community college.

A short walk from just about anywhere, including the home of Mayor Frank Jackson, who is black.

The billboards’ target: African-American voters who support President Barack Obama.

The billboards’ picture: a giant gavel lowering a verdict of guilty.

The billboards’ written message: VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY — UP to 3 1/2 YRS and $10,000 FINE.

The billboards’ unwritten message: We will do anything to keep you from voting.

The plan, of course, is to intimidate an entire community of innocent Americans accustomed to withering suspicions steeped in race.

Two facts about voting in Ohio:

1) Voter fraud is a myth — just as it is everywhere else in the country.

2) Felons who have served their time are allowed to vote.

It doesn’t take much to scare ex-offenders away from the polls. Redemption may be the law, but it does not reside in the hearts of those who will go to extraordinary lengths to keep certain people down and out.

I am ever mindful of Michael Green, an African-American man in Cleveland who was falsely incarcerated for 13 years for a rape he didn’t commit. After I wrote a series about Green’s ordeal in 2002, he extracted one promise from me, kept to this day. Whenever I speak to classrooms with young black men, I share Green’s warning: Never run when a police officer shows up. No matter how innocent you are, stop in your tracks and put your hands in the air.

  • keefers42

    truth of the billboards are making liberals feel guilty

    • William Deutschlander

      The Republican billboards are truthfully voter intimidation.
      Ignorance is not tolerable in a Democracy!

      • Ed

        Yes, As are the “freindly letters ” to employees about how their employer, who has “spent his life building a company” will have to downsize if Oboma is reelected and congress decides that higher taxes are necessary. But no one has the Cahunes to prosecute the offenders.

  • keefers42

    voter fraud is not a myth what about all the franken votes found in a “car” after the election

    • William Deutschlander

      Ignorance is BLISS!
      Voter fraud is evident this year soley on the part of the Republican voter supresion and intimidation.

    • Your comments lack enough facts to sway any one. There is just not enough information to verify.

      What we can verify is that RNC and the organization they hired systematically altered, and tore up voter registration forms. The GOP got so upset about ACRON Because they thought that the liberals were doing what they were planning. ACRON was innocent – the RNC, not so much.

      The GOP always projects their own misdeeds on to others.

    • President Bush did a 5 year investigation – no rampart voter fraud – 86 cases found and when prosecutors investigated further found most were human error. However here are two examples of Voter Fraud by Republicans
      1 . John Enright, a Republican running for Supervisor of Pinal County, Arizona, ended his campaign after allegations that his former companion — who has been deceased for five years — has been voting by absentee ballot since her death. Pinal County Recorder Laura Dean Lytle told The Arizona Republic that the curious case “is an absolute act of fraudulent voting.”

      2. Four staffers for former U.S. Representative and Republican presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter were charged in connection with an election fraud investigation. While no charges were brought against McCotter himself, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette slammed the former Rep. for being “asleep at the switch.”
      The Detroit Free Press reports:
      -Don Yowchuang 33, of Farmington Hills, was charged with 10 counts of election law forgery, a five-year felony; one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, a 5-year felony, and six counts of falsely signing a nominating petition, all misdemeanors.
      -Paul Seewald, 47, of Livonia, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, nine counts of falsely signing a nominating petition.
      -Mary Melissa Turnbull, 58, of Howell, district representative: one count of conspiracy to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, and one count of falsely signing a nominating petition.
      -Lorianne O’Brady, former scheduler, 52, of Livonia, charged with five counts of falsely signing a nominating petition.

    • ralphkr

      You are correct about voter fraud not being a myth but I must say that strict voter ID shall have no bearing upon voter fraud since over 99% of voter fraud in the past has been committed by officials conveniently losing ballot boxes that contain the “wrong” votes, stuffing boxes with “correct” votes, rigging machines, “helping” voters vote, ad infinitum. I believe that it was 2010 when a precinct with around 3K registered voters turned in 4K votes for their TEA party candidate. Evidently they had been schooled by Democrats in NYC and Chicago.

    • Sam_Dobermann

      All ballots in the Franken race was counted at least twice in the presence of representatives of both candidates. Any ballot that seemed in the least way suspicious as to intent as well as reliability.

      This was one election where paper ballots existed and every one could be recounted and checked whether they were legitimate and not more than one to any person.

      There was NO fraud.

      You have been told so much cow poop by Republicans blaming others when they lose. Your candidates are often jerks and the positions they run on are being repudiated by the American people. So they lose.

      Get used to it.

  • The GOP understands that if they lose Ohio and Florida the game is over for them and, not surprisingly, they are unashamedly using old biases and prejudices to get the votes of those who are more likely to be influenced by ethnic, cultural or secual orientation matters than the record or a clear vision of the future, let alone what is best for our country. Unfortunately, the race is tightening in key toss up states…

  • kayodeo

    I am from NY and relocated to Texas a few years ago! I cannot belive how far the GOP will go to steel this election. I know my vote does not make a difference in the this RED state, but I will not give up my right to vote.

  • CAThinker

    That billboard is outrageous and obscene. Hopefully it puts the fight into those it was meant to oppress and they use it as a call to vote, rather than as an omen not to.

  • dickpeery

    The billboard in Cleveland is not aimed at felons. It is aimed at any legitimate voter of little means who would be reluctant to put herself at risk of a false accusation for a crime she did not commit. Think of an honest taxpayer threatened with an IRS audit if he claims a valid deduction.

  • Jessica

    It would be helpful to have an image of the billboard for people who don’t live in Ohio. Thanks!

  • Popegregory

    Connie, thanks for youer insight. It is obvious that my Republican friends will do any thing to get elected.

    • Sand_Cat

      You have Republican friends?

  • Boy, it would be a crying shame if some ‘private family foundation’ were to organize the surreptitious whitewashing of these clearly intimidating billboards. Just sayin’.

    And yes, I consciously chose to use the word ‘whitewash’ – I enjoy the irony.

  • tokoloshi27

    Wow, freedom of expression meets the ignorance of sub-standard public education.

    If the article was not so much focused on finding someone to blame for the billboard, maybe Schultz’ repeated attempts at education wouldn’t be necessary…telling felons to vote. There is a neat moral imperative.

    Perhaps more disturbing is the knee-jerk implication that the billboards’ statement is racist in intent. Logically is that assertion made in the article based on placement locality, or simply the sentiment? Either one in a free, educated democracy should be laughable. A simple statement of legal fact should not embarrass or confound any righteous citizen. The actual racist statement is one pointing out the racism of the legal fact, and making preposterous campaign hay out of it.

    • Sand_Cat

      You’re right. In a “free, educated democracy,” these things would be laughable. That’s why Republicans consistently try to cut education funding, destroy and undermine teachers, and force the teaching of their favorite religions in science class. That’s why the public education in poor, and especially black, neighborhoods is usually far less than substandard. And your disparagement of those suggesting that the location selected indicates the campaign is racist, and even more, your idiotic assertion that to point this out is itself “racist” is a pretty routine example of right-wing projection and lies on the topic of race.

      You obviously belong wholeheartedly to the insane and racist cult that the Republican Party has become, and your entire “comment” is nothing but a dressed-up version of the party line.

      • tokoloshi27

        Dear Litterbox; I’m not sure what ‘racist’ means anymore. It used to be someone who abused or oppressed others of differing races. Now it just seems to be liberal dialectic, no logic, rationale or reason; simply an emotional stick to swing at those who disagree with your world-view…

        Thank you for devaluing the civil-rights movement.

        • Sand_Cat

          Keep denying the racist animus at the base of the Republican party since it welcomed all the southern “Democrats” who suddenly discovered they were Republicans when the Civil Rights act passed. I have to hand it to you, accusing me of “devaluing” the civil rights movement is almost as good as the Republican argument in 2000 that they were just protecting “one man, one vote.”

          Clearly you know what racism is, and you’re obviously a practitioner. Oh, and like other infantile right-wingers, you just couldn’t resist that bit of toilet humor.

          There’s plenty of logic and reason in the liberal charge, and you know it. It just makes you even angrier and more irrational because you know the charge is true.

    • Replying to tokoloshi27 –


      The very fact that the placement of all, or the vast majority of these signs, is in black communities rather than spread out over the city is an indication of who the message is targeted to.

      So, yes, it does sound racially motivated.

      By your definition, shouting “FIRE!!” in a crowded theater, of calling in a bomb threat in a shopping mall should be protected speech.

      There has to be some semblance of ambiguity for it not to look racially motivated.


      • tokoloshi27

        Jim, sorry but you bought into the story’s bias. If you read the story closely your “vast majority” was actually a spin-based selection; across from a project, the community college and within walking distance of the mayor’s residence who is…Schultz’ intent was to suggest something without saying it outright. How targeted were they really, we are not actually told – directly; I’m sure if she had hard numbers she would have shared them, but since she didn’t; the real implication is that the real target is manufactured outrage.

        Lets examine the rest of her authoritative, emotional article. A gratuitous paragraph from a wrongly convicted African-American man (those are the only details, just enough to throw up a conjectured scenario) who says he shouldn’t have run from the police… What does that exactly have to do with billboards? Granted I’m every expletive you and your fellow travelers care to dismiss me with, but I at least am processing this logically.

        She describes the Cleveland billboards as a gavel and legend referring to the crime and punishment for voter fraud. Then she launches into a riff about another (not similar) 2010 billboard design in Wisconsin, this time with a graphic described as “black faces peering from behind prison bars”? Notice she doesn’t tell us who commissioned that/those billboards nor does she mention where they were located.

        She lets this whole mishmash hang out there unsupported, except by her definitive assertion that voter fraud is a myth. What does that mean, it never happened in these United States, or just Ohio? Who is mything whom and does that definitive assertion make this whole article somehow believable?

        There are more than enough untruths in this (endless) campaign season, why are you suspending your reason to believe this farrago?

  • I get the outrage, but when was the last time you looked at a billboard and had anything it said on it impact you; other than if it was telling you what the Mega Millions was up to? Seriously. How many have EVER called a phone number? Ate at a restaurant? (unless you’re on a roadtrip) Or attended a church because you saw it on a billboard?

    People that have been voting year after year after year, know that they are not FRAUDULENTLY voting. Hell, they probably know the people manning the polling places! (I know mine.) Although I think the GOP has gone ’round the bend (while ON a bender) with their dirty play this election, I’m WAY MORE CONCERNED about voter suppression tactics at the actual polling stations. THAT’S where the focus needs to go now and where the Democrats need to have a person manning EVERY SINGLE POLLING STATION IN OHIO ensuring that no voter suppression takes places. Have a Smartphone, set it to voice record and let it run continuously. You can then send the audio files to the TV stations, including a national cable news network (NOT FOX) and you should know the email addresses in advance and have them programmed onto your phones. Then put the file on YouTube and Twitter.

    The best defense is a good offense (Vince Lombardi).

    Just sayin’

  • Responding to tokoloshi27: I agree this is their first amendment right to place these ads and it is our first amendment right to express our opinion, just as you have done. Perhaps the reason people are offended is the Billboards are being placed in targeted areas – minority dominated areas. That is why the motives are questionasble. I would be curious if the person(s) placing these ads are White Republicans? My response to those ads – get out and vote – do not let them win – let your voices be heard through your vote……

  • Lovefacts

    With their voter suppression, the Republicans are making the US look like a third-world country where ballot stuffing is the norm. They shame our country. I pray those targeted by this ugliness will vote.

  • I live right outsude of NYC so I don’t see any of these billboards or tv commercials like the Republican suiper Pacs put out but I was in Vt. last weekend and saw numerous negative (against the Democratic candidate) commercials on TV. They are misleading at best and outright fraudlent at worst.

  • THE FRAUD PERPETRATED BY A REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE OF THE “HOLIER THAN THOU” REPUBLICANS HAS SPREAD TO AT LEAST 11 STATES, and is on a scale in the 10’s of thousands, possibly 100’s of thousands of fraudulent votes.

    Contrast that to the extremely low number of actual cases of voter fraud that has been found at the polls in over a decade of searching.


    • Bubba_BS

      As quoted from the article ‘Voter fraud is a myth — just as it is everywhere else in the country.’ If indeed voter fraud is a myth and a topic not worthy of discussion, why do you blaim Republicans for the ‘THE VAST MAJORITY OF FRAUDULENT VOTER REGISTRATIONS…’

      I find it dissapointing that such strong and all encompassing statments are made by both yourself and the author of the article with no source material referenced. What may be a very valid arguement by yourself or the author is completely negated by your lack of facts to back up your opinion.

      Well I may not agree with the billboard presentation, I equally do not like the idea of people voting illegally. As you clearly feel the Republicans are conspiring to steal the election through fradualant voting, how do we (the voting public) stop this from happening.

      How do we insure that only those that are legally able to vote are the only ones that do vote?

      I look forward to reading your response and possibly that of the author of the article on this topic.

  • I get that it plays on racial stereotypes, but that is kinda detracting from the words “Voter Fraud is a crime.” If they woulda put a white, an asian, a mexican, and a black would ya’all feel better about it?

  • VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY — 3 YRS & $10,000 FINE…place the billboard in a few predominantly white neighborhoods and everything will be cool

    • Replying to Steve W

      PARTICULARLY IF IT SHOWS A BLACK MAN BEHIND BARS. Sorry, but the ad in this case is clearly intended as a racial attack on minority voters.


      If I were a black voter, I WOULD RISK PRISON to vote against the people who are planting these RACE HATER signs.

  • Michele VroomanKennett

    I really, really hate hate.

  • Driving northbound on I-75 from Ocala Fl. 2 weeks ago on my way home to Auburn Al . Billboards where Anti-Obama and they were also owned By ClearChannel . Perhaps we should have a National boycott against Clearchannel Radio stations, because it the same company .