Metro Transit once again taking heat for controversial ad

Metro Transit once again taking heat for controversial ad
BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Metro Transit is involved in yet another controversy involving bus ads, and this time it's not about what the ads say, but why Metro is allowing them on buses.

A new ad, which is now featured on six buses, reads, "The Palestinian authority is calling for a Jew-free state. Equal rights for Jews."

Some bus riders didn't know what to make of the ad, but others claimed it goes too far.

"It demonstrates too much prejudice," on rider said.

The ad is controversial on its own, but it's why Metro allowed it on buses that's causing the bigger stir.

The ad's sponsor, an east coast Jewish activist group called The American Freedom Defense Initiative, boasts on its website how the organization strong-armed Metro into running the ad by threatening a lawsuit.

The group paid $3,300 for a four-week run on six of Metro's 1,400 buses.

Despite its relative lack of exposure, some say the ad doesn't sit well with them. That includes the people affiliated with the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign.

Members of the pro-Palestinian group say Metro refused to run their ad in 2010, and they later sued for violating their free speech.

"If they could put up any ads they want, then why not ours?" said the campaign's Carla Curio. "Why are they choosing which ads, which people get to have free speech?"

Metro released a statement insisting the organization doesn't take sides in political issues.

"We look at whether an advertisement complies with our policy and must remain neutral when it comes to content. We're not in a position to take sides in this debate," the statement reads.

This is just the latest in a string of bus ad controversies for Metro in recent months. In May, Metro accepted a gun control ad that many objected to, and just last month it ran a controversial anti-terrorism ad. The sponsor of that ad eventually agreed to take it down.

Metro changed its ad acceptance criteria after rejecting the pro-Palestinian ad in 2010. The free speech lawsuit is now before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The organization sponsoring the latest ad has not returned emails for comment on the story.