Major tech giants like Google, Hulu and Verizon are refusing to run all or part of a new political ad that calls America a “police state” under the Trump administration.
On Monday, Priorities USA Action and Color of Change PAC released a new 30-second digital ad titled “Police State” that features a montage of police officers beating, tear-gassing, tasing and running over people protesting racial inequality.
The words “brute force” and “silencing dissent” appear over the footage, accompanied by audio from a June 1 speech in which President Donald Trump calls himself the “president of law and order” and separate audio from 2017 in which he tells police: “Please don’t be too nice.”
The ad, above, targets “younger Black voters who are ‘Trump-curious’ or undecided about Joe Biden,” and is meant to run this month through Election Day in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, according to Priorities USA’s website.
Yet according to the PACs behind it, Google refused to allow the ad to be used on its platforms, while Hulu and Verizon, which owns HuffPost’s parent company, also had issues with it. (Facebook is one of the companies to approve the ad with no changes.)
In a statement to The Washington Post, Google says it blocked the ad because of its “shocking and disturbing content.”
“We don’t allow advertisers to run ads that contain graphic violence, including depictions of blood, baton beatings, and other instances of physical trauma,” Google spokesperson Charlotte Smith told the Post.
“These policies apply to all advertisers, regardless of political affiliation,” she added.
Hulu told Priorities USA Action it objected to “consistent violent imagery,” including “human-to-human violence,” but did agree to run part of the ad.
Meanwhile, Verizon said: “The issue is that the video features some shots of violence that are intense and distressing. In general, we don’t allow ads that depict violence, criminal behavior, physical harm or leverage fear, across all categories.”
Jenn Stowe, deputy executive director of Priorities USA, criticised the tech companies in a press release for the ad.
“Anti-violence content policies were clearly put in place for good reasons, but we don’t live in reasonable times,” she said. “With Trump continuing to stoke violence across the country as a political tactic, ad vendors must reevaluate their policies to ensure the issues facing voters in this election are not being censored by their out-of-date policies.”
Trump’s long-criticised autocratic tendencies have been amplified in recent weeks as he’s attempted to suppress nationwide anti-racism protests by deploying tens of thousands of military police to American cities.
In a particularly egregious display of federal force, federal officers in unmarked vans detained demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, during late-night protests last month. One disturbing video features two officers approaching an individual who is holding their hands up, putting that person into a minivan, and then driving off.