George Floyd 2020. Vote for Breonna Taylor. Stephon Clarke ‘20.
Six yard signs staked outside the White House urge people to vote this year, but not for a presidential candidate. Instead, couched in the familiar red, white, and blue imagery of political advertisements, the signs ask Americans to vote on behalf of victims of police brutality.
Advertising firm created the yard signs in partnership with ‘s latest initiative, , a nationwide campaign to increase voter participation. The foundation — which offers training, fellowships, and funding to organizations to promote “interracial dialogue to end racism” — wanted to increase conversations of racial inequity ahead of the November presidential election. Designers at Goodby Silverstein & Partners envisioned the yard signs as a clear way to connect the issues of police brutality and voter participation.
The campaign also created an Instagram account to educate voters about policies like mandated police de-escalation training that specifically affect Black, indigenous, and other people of color, as well as a YouTube video with audio from news coverage of the victims’ deaths and this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, all in a bid to get people to vote in honor of those who can’t.
The foundation has previously used eye-grabbing advertisements to educate viewers about police brutality. In collaboration with Goodby Silverstein & Partners earlier this year, the group released the campaign, featuring a video that intermittently switches a candy bar and a gun in the hand of a Black customer. At the end, the video informs viewers that Black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police, according to a study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“It was important for us to continue the conversation about police brutality, to keep saying their names,” said Goodby Silverstein & Partners associate creative director Anthony O’Neill in an email. “Racial injustice is an issue that affects all of us, but it’s also something we can all change if we vote. It might not be immediate, but the road to change starts today, and it starts at the polls.”
Responses to the signs on social media are mixed. Some Twitter users admired the message behind the yard signs, while others expressed concern with the their appearances, worried that they exploit the victims’ deaths.
I get it. This type of sign is meant to promo name recognition, not necessarily politics. Sometimes it feels like the only way to get some to recognize those names and even google them. It may seem tasteless, but it’s also a desperate attempt to keep them in the minds of all.
— 🌟𝕊𝕡𝕚𝕣𝕚𝕥 𝕆𝕟 ℙ𝕒𝕣𝕠𝕝𝕖🌟 (@SpiritOnParole) October 5, 2020
Is this from white liberals thinking they’re helping…
At least 2 of these deaths were pre-Trump
Oscar Grant was unjustly killed by police when Bush was president….
The exploitation 😔
— Simone (@SimoneKali) October 5, 2020
When asked about these criticisms, the team behind Vote For Them stood behind the positive impact of their signs, saying in an email that the images serve to start conversations about the power of voting. “This election year, we felt the need to call attention to the fact that we’re not just voting for one politician over the other, but we’re casting a ballot to change our society for the better by voting for officials that align with policies we believe in — specifically policies that affect Black lives the most,” said GS&P associate creative director Rony Castor. “By casting a spotlight on how votes affect real people like Breonna Taylor, we hope to enforce how much every vote counts.”
The campaign, which isn’t affiliated or endorsed by the Black Lives Matter organization, hopes to build upon this year’s calls for social justice.
“This is a non-partisan issue and our campaign is simply encouraging people to vote,” said Glenn Singleton, founder and board chair of Courageous Conversation Global Foundation.
The eye-catching signs are sure to attract the eyes of critics and supporters alike. “No matter where you live in America, you’ve seen candidate lawn signs,” Castor said. “They grab your attention. We’re hoping the signs will not only be attention-grabbing but also cause a reaction, and lead people to our Instagram to read about policies that all Americans should care about.”
WATCH: How to vote in the 2020 presidential election