Stuck Elevator Halts Foes of Billboard
A protest over controversial radio station billboards came to a halt Tuesday when 16 picketers got stuck in an elevator on their way up to the station’s executive offices.
The trapped protesters were among nearly 50 Latino activists who gathered in Burbank to protest Power 106 Radio Station’s recent ad campaign, which promotes a morning show hosted by “2 Fat Mexicanz.”
The protest grew quiet, however, when the elevator stopped between the ground and first floors of the 10-story building in the 2600 block of West Olive Street.
It took a Burbank fire company, several Burbank police officers and the building’s elevator technicians more than an hour to pry open the elevator, which was on its way to the eighth floor.
“We sure didn’t expect anything like this to happen today,” said Burbank Officer Dan Yadon, who was monitoring the picketers outside before they entered the building.
Despite the rescue effort, several leaders of the day’s protest said their organizations will try again to meet with the station executives.
“This matter isn’t resolved,” said Bert Corona, executive director of Hermandad Mexicana, a Latino civil rights group with headquarters in North Hollywood. “We’re going to put a stop to these racist advertisements.”
The ad campaign has been the focus of debate since July, when about 40 billboards went up throughout the city to advertise the station’s four-hour morning show that features two overweight Latino men from Bakersfield who are called the “Baka Boyz” or “2 Fat Mexicanz.”
The billboards show the pair in three scenarios--one with them on toilets, pants around their ankles.
“This not only depicts Mexicans in a demeaning, offensive manner, but refers to the oldest and most classic stereotype of a Mexican--fat and stupid,” said Corona.
“My kids like the show, which scares me because it’s like they’re being served sugar-coated poison,” said Silver Lake resident Maria Diaz, who has five children.
Doyle Rose, president of Power 106, believes the billboards have been misunderstood by a portion of the community that isn’t familiar with the program.
But as a result of numerous complaints to the station, all advertisements depicting the brothers on toilets have been removed and replaced with billboards showing the pair standing behind surfboards.
“We realize now that it wasn’t a good campaign technique,” said Rose. “Our intent was to depict these guys as fun, and not display tones of racism. We hope that by taking down these billboards that we will defuse some of the controversy.”
Rose said the reference to “2 Fat Mexicanz” is a nickname the morning show hosts gave themselves and have used on the air for nearly two years.
“The Baka Boyz are rare, Latino role models to Los Angeles young people,” said Rose. “Our audience considers them as such, and has responded favorably to the phrase ‘2 Fat Mexicanz.’ ”
Eric Vidal, the younger of the brothers, said he’s proud of the nickname and can’t understand why it’s being criticized.
“How can Mexicans be racist against Mexicans?” said Vidal. “We’re proud of who and what we are. We’re proud that we’re Mexican and we’re proud that we’re fat. Most of the people who are making judgments about us haven’t even listened to the show.”
Nick Vidal believes the billboards were misinterpreted from the start. “We have fun on the show, and that’s what we’re trying to tell everyone on the billboards,” he said. “We’re also comfortable with who we are. Everybody needs to come together and be proud of who they are. That’s all we’re trying to say.”