The ACLU's New Billboards Are Sending A Straightforward But Necessary Message

In more than one language.

Depending on where you live, the next time you look up, you could end up reading the First Amendment of the United States Constitution — in more than one language.

It's all thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, which launched a new campaign earlier this month called We the People. Electronic billboards featuring the text of the First Amendment in English, Arabic, and Spanish were placed in New York City's Times Square and at bus stops in Washington, D.C. The text also appears on a fence in Brooklyn and a wall in Los Angeles, and could eventually appear in other cities and languages.

The purpose of the campaign, according to the official announcement, is "to remind the public about its First Amendment rights and to reassure immigrants that they too are protected by the Constitution."


In case you don't have a billboard near you, the First Amendment reads as follows: 

"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."

Arabic and Spanish were chosen as the non-English languages as a response to the current administration's anti-immigration policies (including the recent travel ban and plans to build a Mexican border wall), which have left Muslim and Latino communities particularly vulnerable.

"We thought this would be a good time to remind the public ― and Trump ― that the First Amendment applies to Muslims and Latinos, and everyone else in this country, too," ACLU communications staffer Stacy Sullivan told The Huffington Post.

Last week, the ACLU tweeted a photo (above) of the Brooklyn display, part of which appeared to have been torn down. The organization took it as an opportunity to reiterate the importance of their message, and promised that the amendment "will go back up."

The campaign, which was developed by ad agency Emergence Creative, also apparently faced resistance from certain advertising vendors who declined to run "issue-oriented advertising." According to the announcement, however, "vendors who did offer space did so at a substantial discount in part because they wanted to support the effort."

The ACLU released a video for the campaign, which features footage of the ads being put up and reactions from bystanders, as well as interviews with immigrants who describe their experience living in the United States. It emphasizes the message that "the Constitution is for everyone."

Watch the video below:


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.