This Ad Campaign Is A Brilliant, Sobering Critique Of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Laws

Dream Defender’s new online campaign uses kid-sized bulletproof vests to take on the gun lobby.

This Ad Campaign Is A Brilliant, Sobering Critique Of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Laws
[Base Photo: Flickr user Susanne Nilsson]

Dream Defenders, a progressive youth organization put together in the interests of black communities, has an eye-catching new ad campaign in Florida that takes express aim at the state’s Stand Your Ground laws. It’s simple, to the point, and cleverly reframes the debate over gun violence in the state.


The tongue-in-cheek campaign was created with help from creative agency brpr, and the billboard pictured above is in Tallahassee. It is mobilizing under the hashtag #VestOrVote. When you call the number above, you get a recorded message: “If you don’t want to live in a world where you have to send your child out in a bulletproof vest, get out and vote on November 4th.”

“Our goal is two-pronged,” Dream Defenders communication director Steven J. Pargett explains to Fast Company in an email. “One part of this is to get young people and people of color involved in this election. We are a large, important bloc of voters in this state and our issues matter. Secondly, we are pushing elected officials to take stances on issues that we care about.”

The Stand Your Ground law, which protected George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, isn’t actually up for repeal next month, but the two state’s two gubernatorial candidates have different positions on gun laws. (Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is running for another term, is endorsed by the NRA.) According to ThinkProgress, at least 26 Florida kids and teenagers have died in cases where Stand Your Ground was evoked.

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Dream Defenders began as a student group, and came to prominence after Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Martin. The group began a 31-day sit-in demonstration in the Florida Capitol, to force lawmakers there to reconsider Stand Your Ground. It didn’t work, so Dream Defenders moved on to other efforts.

Learn more about the campaign’s efforts here.

About the author

Chris is a staff writer at Fast Company, where he covers business and tech. He has also written for The Week, TIME, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, and more.