Suit claims Philadelphia wrongly refused NAACP ad

The NAACP and the ACLU filed a suit against the city of Philadelphia after the city’s airport officials refused to accept an advertisement highlighting America’s high incarceration rate.

The NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a suit against the city of Philadelphia alleging a First Amendment violation after Philadelphia International Airport officials refused to accept an advertisement highlighting America’s high incarceration rate.

The issue stems from a campaign by the NAACP to educate people about the overuse of incarceration, according to Mary Catherine Roper, ACLU staff attorney.

“They proposed an ad that said, ‘Welcome to America where we have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners,’ ” she said. “But the city rejected that ad even though they have ads for all other kinds of causes up in the airport.”

Roper said the city claimed the ad had been rejected because it does not accept “issue” or “advocacy” advertisements at the airport.

Robert Rooks, the criminal justice director for the NAACP, said other airports also decided not to put up the ad. However, something sets Philadelphia apart, he said.

“They decided to post other billboards that were issue-oriented in nature from the Wildlife Federation, from National PETA, from the Foundation for a Better Life,” he said. “So we believe since Philadelphia moved to post those billboards that they should have posted ours as well.”

The lawsuit also names Clear Channel Outdoor, which handles advertising for the Philadelphia airport.

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