127-Member Coalition Asks DC Transit to Support Anti-Hate Efforts in Wake of ‘Savage’ Ads
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | October 9, 2012 – A broad-based coalition of 127 organizations, led by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jewish Voices for Peace – DC Metro (JVP) and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace (WIAMEP), today sent a letter to the Washington Area Metro Transit Authority (WMATA) expressing concern over advertisements now on display in DC-area metro stations sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a designated hate-group led by Pamela Geller.
SEE: Coalition Letter to WMATA Board Chair Catherine Hudgins
SEE: Coalition Letter to DC Metro Executives
In its letter, the coalition requests that:
- WMATA work closely with organizations representing impacted Muslim and Arab communities during all phases of the response and follow up to the ads.
- WMATA take a similar approach to that of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in response to these ads by placing disclaimers that show that the hate speech promulgated by such ads is not representative of the view of WMATA.
- WMATA provide free space for counter ads, focused on promoting understanding and tolerance regarding the Greater Washington DC Metropolitan area’s various Muslim and Arab communities, and awareness of the harm caused by Islamophobia and anti-Arab hatred and discrimination.
In the letter, the coalition also states:
“With respect to your response in this matter, it is not our desire that WMATA disallow advertisements that contain any political speech as this would curtail the use of an important forum where ideas are frequently exchanged. We respect the protections afforded to political speech, and do not wish that our position be misinterpreted as advocating for the curtailment of such speech. This being said, we do believe there are measures WMATA can take to mitigate the effect hate speech has on the community and encourage you to take the above listed steps in crafting a principled and effective response.”
In an example of respecting free speech while choosing to promote tolerance, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency issued a statement noting that Geller’s piece“ has no value in facilitating constructive dialogue