Controversial 'Defeat Jihad' Ads Appear On CTA Buses

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Nov 15, 2012 5:00PM

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Reader Ryann Moran took this photo of a southbound 151 bus at the northwest corner of Montrose & Sheridan around 2:45 on Wednesday.

The controversial advertisements with an anti-Muslim message that have appeared on public transit in New York City and Washington, DC, arrived on Chicago's buses yesterday. Courts have ruled the advertisements are protected by the First Amendment, so the Chicago Transit Authority will allow them, while saying they find the message "divisive."

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the ads are running on 10 buses, and blogger Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative bought ad space for four weeks. The anticipated revenue is $4,500.

The advertisement pictured above was posted on a CTA bus on the #151 Sheridan route. We've also received photos of the same advertisement on a #81 Lawrence bus and a #54 Cicero bus. Steele said there are two or three different advertisements.

Steele said the CTA's advertising policy only prohibits illegal activities. He said the decision to allow the advertisements to run was based on the results of what happened when transit agencies tried to deny AFDI ad space.

"We do understand that the advertisements may be offensive to some of our customers," Steele told Chicagoist, "and the CTA objects to the divisive nature of the message."

According to our pals at DCist, the Metro posted disclaimers alongside some of the AFDI's advertisements today that say, "This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Advertising space is a designated public forum and does not imply WMATA's endorsement of any views expressed."

A petition to ask the CTA to remove the ads has been started on Change.org and as of 11 a.m. has about 200 signatures.

In other cities, the ads were targets for vandalism. Watch this video of an awkward altercation in New York City between someone planning to deface an AFDI ad and someone determined to stop them. Since the advertisements in Chicago are posted on buses and not at stations, vandals would have more trouble getting to it.

"It's something that we'll certainly be watching for," Steele said. If an advertisement has been vandalized, the CTA is contractually obligated to put a new ad up in its place.