An inter-racial coalition of clergy will hold a press conference to denounce the “racial tone advertising that has taken on in the Republican primary.” The press conference, held by Imani Baptist Temple Rev. Bill McGill, will be held at the North end of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge at 1:15 p.m. Friday.
The event is a direct response to a recent political ad released by Indiana representative Todd Rokita (R-4th) that says, “liberal elites disrespect our flag and the sacrifice of our soldiers.” The ad has an image of NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem at an NFL football game, as well as images of protesters who “attack our police”.
McGill believes the ad depicts people of color as dangerous, irresponsible, and unpatriotic.
“The party of Lincoln should feel a sense of shame that racial fear is being used at this stage of the game,” he said. “As a nation we have come too far for candidates to be picking at the scab and opening a fresh scar. Instead of disparaging people for taking a knee, we should be addressing the issues that keep minorities convinced that they are still not free. Race should have no place in this race.”
Steve Shine, chair of the Allen County Republican Party, has not seen the ads in question but will attended the press conference to give assurances that the party he represents welcomes diversity and disavows discrimination in any form. He expressed that it is within Rokita’s right of political speech.
“Basically it will be up to the voter to make a judgment call on how he or she perceives that ad,” Shine said. “Would I do it? I have a different idea as far as advertising as far as getting the message out is concerned.”
Rokita’s spokesperson Nathan Brand sent NewsChannel 15 the following statement in reaction to the press conference.
“Charges of racism are absurd,” he said. “This is political correctness run amuck. Like the clear majority of Hoosiers and President Trump, Todd Rokita believes that kneeling during the national anthem is wrong, especially by spoiled millionaire athletes, and no matter the injustices being protested, there are better ways to address them than disrespecting the flag and our veterans, and further dividing the country.”