Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent
The immigrant groups have called the radio station’s trip giveaway ad—depicting Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman on a Green Card—“racist” and “insensitive,” after the winner is offered a “few pesos” and is invited to “spend the weekend chasing aliens and spending cash in the desert.”
The radio station launched the promotion in response to Coleman’s suspension of city travel to Arizona to protest its new immigration law, SB 1070. The station encouraged city employees to enter the drawing.
The law, signed in April by Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, allows its local police to ask for immigration documents if they stop or detain someone that they suspect is in the country without documentation.
The contest ended May 27th, 2010 and the winner is from Grove City.
Rubén Castilla Herrera, Reform Immigration for America Ohio state director, said he was “absolutely disgusted” with the ad. He said he also believes it is important to speak out against such actions/ads in order to prevent a copy-cat Arizona bill in Ohio.
“We definitely consider it to be hurtful, detrimental to our community,” Herrera said “It has racist connotations. It’s clearly profiling a group of people. You have to contest it; you can’t let racism go on,” he said. Herrera added “Even if you’re doing this for fun, this is not funny. It incites those people that hate,” he concluded.
WTVN program director Mike Elliot was not available to speak with La Prensa before the Memorial Day Weekend. Elliot told The Columbus Dispatch the contest was the most popular the station has ever had, with about 5,000 people entering the drawing for a free round-trip airfare to Phoenix, cash and hotel accommodations.
One primary sponsor for the radio station, Roush Honda, pulled at least one of its ads after being contacted by Mas.
Marketing Manager for Roush Honda, Gary Harkin, responded to Mas in a letter that his company has supported the station for many years with a rotating ad on the station’s Web site but once learning of the Arizona trip ad, they immediately cancelled their latest online investment.“Roush Honda was NOT a sponsor of this promotion, and in no way finds this promotion amusing, tasteful, or appropriate. In fact, you and I both referred to the promotion as “patently offensive,” Harkin replied to Mas in a letter.
More than 170 people have signed an Online petition sponsored by the Ohio Action Circle, a statewide blog promoting immigrant rights, to condemn the promotion because it mocked the mayor, immigrant community and Latinos, it said.
Mayor Coleman was not available for comment.
People have also expressed their opinion on the station’s FaceBook page.
One person wrote on the Online networking site, “I support the Arizona trip promo 100 percent...It has nothing to do with degrading illegal immigrants, rather I see it as taking an opportunity to poke fun at Mayor Coleman and other liberals who want to portray conservatives as racists and bigots—just because we want to live in a nation based on the rule of law.”