Whatever trophies the Oscar-nominated Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri comes away with next month, Martin McDonagh’s film about a grieving mother calling out police inaction by erecting three blood-orange, blame-giving billboards can take credit for at least some real-world impact: A form of protest.
From Miami to London and beyond, activists have adopted the Three Billboards approach to, in one case, call out Florida Senator Marco Rubio for his money-taking from the NRA and, in London, demand action in the horrific Grenfell Tower public housing fire.
See the billboards – and Rubio’s latest response to criticism over his gun stance – below.
In the black, all-caps type familiar from the movie, the trio of Rubio-shaming billboards mounted on trucks were driven around the senator’s offices in Doral, Florida yesterday, two days after the Valentines Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead and many more injured.
The billboards read:
SLAUGHTERED IN SCHOOL
AND STILL NO GUN CONTROL?
HOW COME, MARCO RUBIO?
The billboards were the work of Avaaz, an online activist group. In a statement released to press, the group’s deputy director Emma Ruby-Sachs said, “Florida has notoriously lax gun laws, and Rubio, who is supported by the NRA, has never attempted to reform them. The senator ranks as one of the highest recipients of NRA contributions and has received an A+ rating from the NRA.”
Added Ruby-Sachs: “Today citizens are asking: How come Rubio refuses to protect our children? The senator has taken fire across the country for his toothless response to the shooting, calling it ‘inexplicable’. We called (that) ‘inexcusable.'”
Though Rubio did not specifically address the protest, he unleashed a series of tweets today castigating the media for ignoring the work he’s done that doesn’t conform to a “narrative” that “evil Republicans in pocket of NRA are blocking gun laws.” (See tweets below).
Whether Rubio’s tweet-storm was spurred at least in part by publicity surrounding the protest in unclear, but activists here and abroad are certainly taken with the billboard approach.
Earlier this week in London, three mobile billboards took to the streets demanding answers in the public housing fire that took 71 lives last September. Those were the work of Justice4Grenfell, described on its Twitter page as an unofficial group demanding an independent investigation and criminal charges in the Grenfell fire.
AND STILL NO ARRESTS?
The group unequivocally denied a Twitter follower’s question about whether the protest was a movie tie-in. “No,” the group responded. “It’s for our campaign – nothing to do with the movie, except where we’ve drawn inspiration.”
The billboard tactic has been used at least once before even the Grenfell group’s February 14 display. Earlier this month, a photo of three billboards in Bristol, England hit social media, seeking more funding for the National Health Services.
Oscars or not, we likely haven’t seen the last of Three Billboards.
Here are two of Rubio’s tweets from today:
And here is the inspiration for all those billboards: