A community organization group with ties to labor unions and to George Soros is out with a dramatic get-out-the-vote ad featuring an African-American mother forcing her son to wear a bullet-proof vest in order to protect himself from being shot by police and “vigilantes.”
Dream Defenders, the group behind the ad, first gained national attention last year when it held a 31 day protest at the Florida state capitol following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (RELATED: Zimmerman Acquitted, Locals React)
The group’s executive director is Phillip Agnew who is paid as an organizer by Service Employees International Union, one of the largest labor unions in the country. The group has also received funding from the Tides Foundation, a non-profit group partially financed by the billionaire Soros.
“Did you study?” an African-American mother asks her son, in the ad which the group published to its site and to YouTube.
“You know baby, I’m going to need you to wear that vest today,” the mother says.
“I need to know when I’m at work that you’re going to be safe,” she says as she straps a bullet-proof vest onto her son.
As part of its “Vest or Vote” campaign, which is meant to leave the impression that abstaining from voting increases the need for a bullet-proof vest, Dream Defenders is also selling what it calls a Dream Vest. The retail price for the protective garment is $149.99.
Rather than using the vest to protect against all gun violence, the Dream Defenders ad focuses only on threats posed by law enforcement officials or armed private citizens.
“Every 28 hours an African-American is killed by a police officer, security guard or vigilante,” text from the ad reads. “No parent in America should have to put their child in a bulletproof vest,” it continues.
“On Nov. 4, you have a choice; Vest or Vote.”
The ad also includes news clips from stories about Martin’s shooting death as well as those of Oscar Grant and Michael Brown. Grant was 22 years old when he was shot to death by a BART police officers in Oakland in 2009. Brown, 18, was killed by Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. (RELATED: Police Officer: Trust Me, Ferguson Changed Everything)
A spokesman for Dream Defenders explained the thinking behind the dramatic ad.
“It’s what we call exaggerated reality,” Steve Pargett, communications director for Dream Defenders, told Buzzfeed. “But here in Florida, it really is the way that mothers are thinking. Mothers are scared for their children. And young people don’t feel as safe as they did before Trayvon Martin was killed. It’s a reality for people living here.”
Dream Defenders was heavily critical of Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott following Zimmerman’s acquittal last year. The group tried unsuccessfully to force Scott to end a law called “Stand Your Ground,” which they often incorrectly claimed was at play during Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin.
Scott is currently running neck and neck with Charlie Crist, a former Republican now running as a Democrat.