Judge orders Metro to post controversial ads

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

A federal judge ordered late Friday that Metro must post a controversial anti-jihad advertisement in its stations no later than 5 p.m. Monday.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Rosemary Collyer issued the order after hearing arguments on Thursday as the advertiser sought an injunction against Metro’s delay in running the ads that read: “In Any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” 

Collyer had said Thursday she planned to issue a full decision only after issuing the order because of the sensitive nature of the timing. 

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency will comply with the order.

The advertiser’s attorney, Robert Muise, praised the decision. “It’s a victory for everyone,” he said. “It’s a victory for all freedom-loving Americans.”

The American Freedom Defense Initiative signed a contract for $5,600 with Metro’s advertising vendor, CBS Outdoor, on Sept. 6 to run 43-by-62-inch ads from Sept. 24 until Oct. 21 on the Metrorail system. 

But Metro told the group it was delaying the ads indefinitely due to global unrest about an anti-Islam video. It told the court that three federal agencies had warned them of a verified domestic terrorism threat and it received a separate email threatening to firebomb the system if it ran the ads. The agency said it was prioritizing public safety.

It said Thursday it wanted to delay the ads until at least Nov. 1 as long as there were no “verified” threats then. The ads are running in New York City’s subways after a court found them to be protected political speech.

Some 200 advocacy groups, including the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, have condemned the ads, but have not called for them to be delayed or banned. Instead they have called for Metro to counter-balance them as the San Francisco Municipal Railway did this summer. Muni ran an accompanying ad saying it did not support the message and planned to donate the $3,400 ad revenue to the city’s Human Rights Commission, according to news reports.

In New York City, meanwhile, the same ads have been tagged with various counter messages.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kytja Weir

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner