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NYC Press Conference - Oct 11: MTA Board Allows Racist Ads But Censors Solidarity

International Action Center



Thurs, Oct 11, 3:00 PM

347 Madison bet 44th & 45th

On Thursday, at 3:00 PM in front of the MTA headquarters, anti-war activists, Muslim clergy and others will hold a press conference to announce legal action to prevent the MTA from blocking ads countering war, hate and racism.

Shown above, on left, is the ad the International Action Center contracted and paid for to run in the subway in the wake of the controversy over the anti-Muslim ads the MTA has been running for arch-racist Pamela Geller. Shown on the right is the redrafted MTA ad including a disclaimer that takes up a full 1/4 of the ad space.

Originally scheduled to run in the subway on Monday, October 8 -- as per agreement between the IAC and the MTA -- the anti-racist ads have still not been posted.

Earlier, the MTA was challenged for running insulting anti-Muslim ads that attack a substantial portion of its ridership in a Klan-like fashion. Claiming its "hands are tied" by a court order enforcing the right of free speech, the MTA has allowed the ugly racist ads to run.

The International Action Center then attempted to run ads countering Geller's message of hate. The IAC's ads denounce racism and affirm the values of unity and solidarity. They especially denounce anti-Muslim bigotry as a tool of war hysteria.

That's when the MTA decided that the right of free speech was not important after all.

"The MTA has stalled, stymied and frustrated the attempts by the IAC to run anti-racist ads," said IAC director Sara Flounders. "In comparison, towards Geller's ads the MTA's arms were positively wide open -- quite a feat given that its hands were tied."

Flounders raised $6,000 to have the unity-and-solidarity ads posted in the subway, and by Oct 1 had signed an agreement with the MTA stipulating that the ads would begin on Monday, October 8.

However, the MTA repeatedly changed the language of the disclaimer on the bottom of the ad. Finally, after stipulating a clear two-line MTA disclaimer at the bottom of the ad, the MTA approved final copy for the anti-racist ad on Oct 3.

The ad was printed and shipped to the MTA distributor and subway stations set for posting the ad. However, on the day the already printed ad was scheduled to be posted in subway stations, the MTA pulled the approved ad. The transit agency then, in breach of contract, re-designed the ad so that the disclaimer took up a full 25% of the ad space (see above).

Flounders noted it would take a struggle to get the MTA to do the right thing, emphasizing that the MTA's actions supporting war propaganda and racism is an extension of its longstanding role in the promotion of militarism and repression.

"With S.W.A.T. teams armed with submachine guns and attack dogs patrolling the subway, the MTA has been a willing accomplice in the bogus 'war on terror,'" said Flounders. "Now with racist anti-Muslim hysteria, the MTA has allowed the war plans of the 1% to take over what should be public transportation for the 99%."


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UPDATED Oct 11, 2012 8:13 AM
International Action Center • Solidarity Center • 147 W. 24th St., FL 2 • New York, NY 10011
Phone 212.633.6646 • E-mail: • En Español: