Even though free speech is a fundamental principle in the United States, it isn’t always easy to exercise it, particularly when it comes to politics. With harassment and violence against the political right on the rise, anyone living in a left-leaning area may feel particularly under pressure to remain silent.
But for a pilot flying in Santa Monica, California, staying silent was not an option. A strong right-leaning message appeared in the sky on Oct. 21. Although it is unclear if the pilot himself felt the need to spread this message or someone else paid him to do it, the public service announcement stayed in the sky of the liberal city for a few minutes.
Spotted in Santa Monica: “DEM LIES MATTER VOTE RED DON’T BE BLUE BE HAPPY VOTE RED” pic.twitter.com/T0knVns3Ye
— Michael “Beto” Knowles (@michaeljknowles) October 21, 2018
The sky message read, “DEM LIES MATTER VOTE RED DON’T BE BLUE BE HAPPY VOTE RED.” More than one person commenting on the post said they or someone they knew had seen it.
My sisters are out there on vacay and posted this! 👍🏽❤ pic.twitter.com/cNDKQUQLTb
— Janie (@janieaar) October 21, 2018
I was there and saw this tonight!
— Mollie (@msdebruhl) October 21, 2018
Some commenting thought the message was on a banner, however, a closer look at the video shows it is the camera that is moving. The message remains static behind the trees.
A video on YouTube shows a similar stunt, but this time multiple planes wrote the band PHISH’s summer tour announcement over Santa Monica. In the comments below the video, Worldwideskyads explained what went into that simple sky message.
“This is done with 5 aircraft that fly in formation. It’s the largest outdoor advertising in the world with each character as tall as the Empire State building and visible for anyone to see or read within a 15 mile radius. The vapor is 100% biodegradable.”
Imagine the skill and effort required to sky-write the much longer message in support of voting “red” in the upcoming midterm elections. The Fly Signs website notes that the cost of skywriting, nationwide, can be expensive.
“On average, a personal skywriting message will cost upwards of $6,000.00-$8,000.00, depending on where the few skywriting planes are located at the time you want the message written. If this is out of your budget, on average, a personal airplane banner will cost between $550.00 and $650.00.”
To someone, getting the “vote red” message out there to residents of Santa Monica was worth the risk and the expense. How effective it will be, however, remains to be seen. At the very least, the video being shared on social media helped spread the message further.
How left-leaning is Santa Monica? According to the Santa Monica Democratic Club, both Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Ted Lieu received the club’s endorsement there and are currently serving in Congress.
Democrats also had strong showings in the 2018 primaries. “Last night, we saw the results of our tireless GOTV work at the Westside Democratic HQ. After 40,000 phone calls, thousands of doors knocked, and several in-district rallies, Democrats advanced to the Top Two in all of our targeted House districts!”
Santa Monica has also made national headlines regarding the topic of sanctuary cities. Santa Monica Next reported in 2017 that the city joined 33 other cities and counties fighting an “Executive Order which sets forth the Administration’s policy to threaten to withhold federal funds from so-called ‘sanctuary jurisdictions.'”
That same year, the Santa Monica Daily Press wrote that the city council stopped short of officially declaring it a “sanctuary city.” However, “For all intents and purposes, Santa Monica Police Department policy is the same as in many sanctuary cities: officers will not assist ICE in detaining immigrants suspected of being in the country without permission.
“Currently, the jail will release inmates who are otherwise free to go, even if ICE has sent them a request to hold the person until immigration officials can pick them up. It is not clear whether this policy will impact Santa Monica’s federal funding.”
With immigration being such a hot topic, particularly with the migrant caravan on its way to the United States, the “vote red” message is particularly risky but extremely necessary and timely in Santa Monica.
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