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Wednesday •  June 29, 2022

Attack Ad Campaign Mailer for Howard County Council District 4 Candidate Janssen Evelyn Exploits and Digitally Defaces Civil Rights Era Photo

By Steven Keller

A controversial and concerning “attack ad”-style election campaign mailer for District 4 County Council candidate Janssen Evelyn was recently sent to many Howard County residents. 


While the mailer’s extremely disingenuous commentary on the voting record of incumbent District 4 County Councilwoman Deb Jung is worthy of criticism, it is the cover image of this mailer that warrants the most serious scrutiny. 


Shown below, the image on the front side of this mailer features “photoshopped” examples of Councilwoman Jung’s face pasted over the faces of four Civil Rights-era demonstrators, two of whom are African American, and the pro-Civil Rights signs of the demonstrators changed to mischaracterizing portrayals of Jung’s political beliefs and voting record:

The original source image for the photoshopped cover of the Evelyn attack ad mailer is shown below and is available on a variety of websites such as The Library of Congress, NPR, UnSplash and a photography blog


The image is a colorized version of a photograph of demonstrators participating in the March on Washington, taken by photographer Marion S. Trikosko on August 28, 1963 during the historic event where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech:

This type of controversial photoshopping has received well-deserved public criticism in the past, with companies such as Panasonic and Microsoft being forced to apologize for actions similar to those used in Evelyn’s campaign mailer, and a US Senate candidate, Josh Mandel, being forced to defend himself from attacks after being wrongly accused of such photoshopping.


Concluding Thoughts


The exploitation and deliberate digital alteration of a photo of such a profound event as the March on Washington should never be tolerated, particularly when committed as a disingenuous election campaign attack in a race for the District 4 seat on the Howard County Council —  a position intended to respectfully represent all Howard County District 4 residents as well as the county as a whole.


“Washington-style”, ends-justify-the-means political tactics such as these have no place in Howard County.  They are the furthest from representing what Howard County stands for and deserve widespread public condemnation and discouragement.


Ironically, the creation of this mailer comes just weeks after individuals and groups closely associated with the Evelyn campaign waged an artificially-racialized public smear/mischaracterization campaign against Deb Jung after she politely confronted a group of local “modified car enthusiasts” who had allegedly been noisily engine revving and drag racing near Clarksville Commons.  The most recent HoCo Watchdogs post covered this topic in detail.


Will any of those same individuals and groups who “rushed to judgement” about Jung now publicly condemn Evelyn and demand an apology for this mailer? 


Will there be any press conferences held about the shameless exploitation of The March on Washington and the disrespectful “digital defacement” of one of the photos of that historic event?


Will the Baltimore Sun, Howard County Times or any other major local news networks cover this story like they covered the recent coordinated smear campaign against Jung?


If Janssen Evelyn is willing to condone morally bankrupt political tactics such as these just to attempt to “win” the District 4 County Council seat, how can he be trusted to lead responsibly and ethically if elected?

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