Pro-DC statehood billboards spring up in Charlotte, NC

With the Republican National Convention drawing to a close tonight, DC statehood advocates are beginning to focus their attention on next week’s Democratic National Convention.

If statehood proponents were disappointed by the Republican’s outright opposition to DC statehood, they’re not likely to find much solace in the Democratic platform, which it looks like will follow on the precedent set in 2008 and will only call for DC voting rights in the House of Representatives.

Statehood proponents are not giving up the fight, and have bought ad space in Charlotte, NC, where the Democrats will convene next week.

From DCist:

When Democrats gather in Charlotte next week for the Democratic National Convention, they’ll be met with two large billboards pushing for an issue near and dear to many D.C. residents—statehood.

D.C. Shadow Senator Michael Brown and outgoing Shadow Representative Mike Panetta said today that they created and paid for the two billboards, which feature iconic images of the country’s founding and a plea for D.C. to be accepted as the union’s 51st state. One of the billboards will be located less than a mile from the convention site, while the second will be a mere 400 feet from the Time Warner Arena. Both will go up on August 31 and remain through the end of the convention.

“We want to make sure that the delegates leave Charlotte with an understanding that the people of the nation’s capital are not equal, and that this is un-American and strikes at the heart of our democracy,” said Brown in a statement.

Despitepleas from D.C. officials, language endorsing statehood has not made it into the 2010 Democratic platform, though some are pushing for it to be included as a last-minute amendment. According to Brown, statehood was in the platform for 16 years, and only removed in 2004. Just this week the Republican platformformally came out against granting D.C. statehood.

The billboards cost $7,500 (down from an original quote of $20,000) and were paid for by voluntary contributions that residents can make through their tax forms to the shadow delegation. In fiscal year 2011, 99 taxpayers contributed $31,732.25 to the fund, and through the second quarter of the 2012 fiscal year contributions reached $13,337.69. Ever since the fund was created in 2006, over $145,000 has been given to the unpaid, three-person delegation.

This isn’t the first time that D.C. voting rights and pro-statehood activists have tried to make their case at the quadrennial political conventions. At this year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa,DC Vote has a staffer dressed like Abraham Lincolntrying to sell the GOP on budget autonomy. In 2008, both Brown andfellow Shadow Senator Paul Strauss traveled to Denver to advocate for voting rights and statehood. While there, they hosted a luncheon that was attended by Hollywood’s biggest supporter of the cause—Hayden Panettiere.

The billboards will be accompanied by a website—StatehoodNow.org—where people can learn about the cause and sign a petition supporting it.

Hit the link above for a look at the billboards. One depicts Emanuel Leutze’s famous scene of Washington crossing the Deleware to attack the Hessians at Trenton, NJ, on 25 December 1776. The other shows George Washington at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1788, where it was decided that the national capital would be housed in a federal district devoid of national voting rights.

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