President Donald Trump’s campaign ad that aired Sunday during the first quarter of the Super Bowl leaned into the issue of criminal justice reform, specifically the case of Alice Marie Johnson.
Johnson, a Black woman, served nearly 22 years of a life sentence in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Her story of survival and reform went viral after Mic released a video interview with her.
After learning about Johnson’s plight on Twitter, Kim Kardashian ― who in recent years has used her high profile to address individual prison cases ― met with Trump in May 2018 to discuss potentially helping Johnson. A week later, the president commuted her sentence.
Trump’s 30-second ad features Johnson discussing the clemency, saying she’s “free to start over” because of the president.
“Thanks to President Trump, people like Alice are getting a second chance,” the ad says. “Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done. Thousands of families are being reunited.”
Johnson herself tweeted out the campaign ad on Sunday. “Two Super Bowls ago I was sitting in a prison cell. Today I am a free woman and my story was featured in a Super Bowl Ad,” she wrote. “I will spend the rest of my life fighting for the wrongly and unjustly convicted! God Bless America!”
Two Super Bowls ago I was sitting in a prison cell.
Today I am a free woman and my story was featured in a Super Bowl Ad.
I will spend the rest of my life fighting for the wrongly and unjustly convicted!
God Bless America! pic.twitter.com/CGSyk54O37
— Alice Marie Johnson (@AliceMarieFree) February 3, 2020
Kardashian responded to Johnson’s tweet: “So proud of you!!!!”
This is why it’s always been a problem that a handful of celebs, guided by Van Jones, worked to make “criminal justice reform” a talking point for the Trump admin. They put more effort into that than into arguing against the existence of the carceral state & its inherent racism.
— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) February 3, 2020
Alice Johnson is one person who won early release because celebrities brought her to Trump’s attention. She deserved it. But there are thousands more like her in prison. We need a real pardon process that works fairly. We need real criminal justice reform. Don’t be fooled. https://t.co/rx9TVXRqeI
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) February 3, 2020
I’ll say it. That Alice Johnson commercial trying to say Trump was some leader on criminal reform is exactly why folks are questioning Kim K’s involvement in criminal justice.
Many of us applauded her efforts advocate for Alice and others. This legitimized every concern
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) February 3, 2020
Now we know why Donald Trump got Alice Johnson out of prison: so he could run a Super Bowl commercial about it and pander to Black people leading up to his re-election.
— Jason Overstreet (@JasonOverstreet) February 3, 2020
Trump advocates Kaepernick’s banishment.
NFL owners donate to Trump campaign.
Trump pardons Alice Johnson/runs Super Bowl re-election ad featuring her.
Alice Johnson appears at NFL/Players Coalition “Inspire Change” dinner last week.
But you don’t want politics…
— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) February 3, 2020