Brief

Conservative ad accuses Evers of racism against white students

By: - November 8, 2022 5:08 am
Gov. Tony Evers vetoes bills making it harder to vote on Aug. 10 | Evers' YouTube

Gov. Tony Evers vetoes bills making it harder to vote on Aug. 10 | Evers’ YouTube

A new political advertisement against Gov. Tony Evers is pushing the bounds of race-baiting tactics during Wisconsin’s midterm election. Paid for by a conservative political action committee called Restoration PAC the ad, which is called “poison,” implies that Evers supports judging students by the color of their skin, particularly white students.

The ad appeared online as voters went to the polls during the early voting period  in Wisconsin before the Tuesday election. Beginning with an image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the quote, “Judge people by their character and actions, not the color of their skin,” a voice-over accuses Evers of leading “an agency that suggested white people wear ‘privilege’ wrist bands.” The advertisement cites an article which appeared on Breitbart News in early October. Breitbart is a well-known right-wing  political website that has been accused of promoting racist, xenophobic, and anti-LGBTQ content.

The anti-Evers advertisement also slams Evers for vetoing bills it claims would have prevented students from being judged by their skin color. Evers vetoed several bills that emerged during debates about curtailing so-called  critical race theory, and restricting the way certain topics like the American slave trade or the genocide of indigenous tribes are taught in schools.  When the advertisement mentions the vetoes, an image of two children — one white and one black, is shown alongside an image of Evers. According to the 2022 census, Wisconsin is 87% white with the majority of its Black population historically being situated in the Milwaukee-area, a region shaped by decades-long red lining and segregation.

The advertisement is part of a flood of negative ads in Wisconsin, which this year had the most costly governor’s race in the country. Other negative advertisements with racial overtones  focused on U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, who is African American. Some of those ads accused Barnes of supporting criminals and featured darkened photographs that made his complexion appear darker than it is. Community organizations in Milwaukee denounced the tone of those advertisements.

Restoration PAC has made very few videos focused on Wisconsin. Its material, focused on other states such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, advocates for policies like voter I.D. In 2018, the PAC spent significant funds to try to defeat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.

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