Many New Jersey residents expressed their outrage after a billboard with a picture of President Trump captioned, “Our Leader: The Idiot” went up in their area.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 23, 2018
A political activist from the Bronx, Neil Harrison, bought the billboard, which was owned by Out Front Media. Harrison said he paid roughly $1,000 for it so he could use it to help him promote and spread “his message against the president.” Harrison claimed he chose New Jersey for his message rather than New York because New York does not allow political messages on billboards. He told News 12 New Jersey, “Manafort was convicted. Cohen’s giving up everything he can, and we’re hoping that Trump is next. Basically that’s what we are out here for. I’m an activist and that’s what I do. And we’re trying to drum up some real support here.”
Union Township Public Information Officer Natalie Pineiro, who acknowledged the billboard did not violate any local ordinance or law, told the Associated Press that the Monday following the introduction of the billboard she received “dozens” of voicemails from residents angered by the billboard’s contents. She added that over 100 negative comments on the town’s Facebook page were posted.
Pineiro derided Harrison’s claim that he created the billboard to promote his documentary, calling his motive “transparent.” She said, “It’s clear what his intentions were and now the township has been the recipient of his circus-like crusade.” She said the billboard was not a representation of the town’s values, adding, “No matter what, it’s about common decency and respect for us. … It has been a resounding outrage to the fact that somebody is going to these lengths to attack a sitting president. It’s something we’ve heard equally about from residents no matter their party, age, demographic. It’s something that’s caused a stir here.”
On the township’s Facebook page, the township wrote, “What a lot of people are claiming is that it’s a political billboard that the township somehow authorized to go up and that’s just not the case. It’s a privately owned billboard on private property. Outfront Media Group, which owns the billboard, are the people who authorized that advertisement to go up.”