Last month, Gary Chambers drew attention for sparking up a marijuana blunt in a political campaign ad. Now the Democrat from Louisiana is getting attention for sparking up something else: a Confederate flag.
The new ad shows Chambers, who’s running for U.S. Senate, dousing the flag in gasoline in slow motion and setting it ablaze as he denounces what he describes as systemic inequality among Black Americans and argues that “remnants of the Confederacy remain.”
“The attacks against Black people — our right to vote and participate in this democracy — are methodical,” Chambers says in the one-minute video released Wednesday, adding: “Our system isn’t broken; it’s designed to do exactly what it’s doing, which is producing measurable inequity.”
Chambers, a community activist from Baton Rouge, is running to unseat Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy in November. Kennedy has held the seat since 2017.
The ad was released as the Louisiana legislature works to redraw the state’s political lines in an ongoing special session. Chambers is among those advocating to expand majority-Black congressional districts in the state, the Daily Advertiser reported. Louisiana has one majority-Black district out of six congressional districts. Black people make up about one-third of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census data.
In his ad, Chambers cites gerrymandering as a source of inequality in his state.
By Friday morning, Chambers’ new ad, titled “Scars and Bars,” had amassed nearly 1 million views on Twitter. One of Chambers’ previous campaign ads, released on Jan. 18, racked up 6.7 million views on the platform. In it, Chambers smokes marijuana and advocates for the drug’s legalization, arguing that laws that prohibit cannabis have disproportionately targeted Black Americans.
In a statement sent to The Washington Post, Erick Sanchez, a senior adviser to Chambers who conceptualized and scripted the ads, said the campaign was pleased with the response.
“Our ads are representative of Gary’s passion to raise awareness for the issues that leave the often forgotten communities in this country behind,” Sanchez said. “While the imagery might be deemed controversial by some, the harsh realities that are highlighted in these ads should be infuriating to all.”
The campaign did not respond to questions about whether the ads have led to increased donations. Chambers said in a tweet that the campaign raised more than $100,000 on Wednesday when the ad was released.
Last year, Chambers lost in a special U.S. House election for Louisiana’s 2nd District, and he may face an uphill climb in the Senate race. Kennedy’s fundraising has far outpaced his Democratic opponents, KTBS reported.
Nevertheless, Chambers appears confident in his campaign, tweeting on Wednesday: “We will continue to build momentum around this nation to make change in Louisiana.”