SFMTA approves policy that prohibits political ads on Muni buses

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco has decided to make a major change in the ads you see on its Muni buses. After feedback from community groups, the new policy restricts what you will now see.

This is one case where San Francisco is not the leader of the pack. With a unanimous vote, SFMTA now joins other big city transit agencies.

SFMTA's current policy allows bus ads, like one which reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat Jihad."

"I think they can be so hurtful to lots of people. I've seen some of the graphics and I shake my head," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.

SFMTA directors have now approved a new policy that prohibits political ads, including campaign messages, and bands others that are intended to be insulting, degrading and offensive.

The most controversial are the work of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which considers it a First Amendment issue.

"It is shocking to me that San Francisco, which is the left wing mecca of radical liberalism, is moving towards shutting down free speech," American Freedom Defense Initiative's Pamela Geller said.

She had just submitted an ad last week and is now threatening to sue. But Muni said other large transit agencies have already implemented successful bans. "They have been able to eliminate some of the ads that have been posted, have been able to withstand some of the legal pressure," SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

The new policy takes effect Wednesday in San Francisco.
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