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Muni Not Taking Down Controversial 'Jihad' Ads On SF Buses

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco's Municipal Railway said it won't be removing controversial ads from its buses, but will instead give ad revenue to the Human Rights Commission.

Muni officials spoke on Wednesday, addressing the ads purchased by the American Freedom Defense Initiative that contains a message that has been called "anti-Islam" by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The organization, called a hate group by the ADL is run by Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer who purchased the ads that say, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat Jihad."

KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports:

Tom Nolan, the president of the Transportation Board finds the ads offensive but said removing them could cause other problems.

"What could happen here if we take them all down [is] we could be taken to court and [there] would be a big cost associated with that and we could be forced— I guess like New York, to put them back up anyway," Nolan said.

UC Hastings law professor Evan Lee agrees saying the ads haven't crossed the legal line and are constitutionally protected free speech.

"I really don't think that they have any discretion in that matter as long as they hold out that space available to the public generally," Lee said.

The $3,400 in donated ad revenue will be used for an educational campaign. Muni will go one step further by placing their own signage next to the message saying, "Muni doesn't support this message."

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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