AIDS Walk LA founder blasts city of Santa Monica over bus advertising ban of non-profits

Craig Miller says ban is same kind of government 'inaction' and 'censorship' that contributed to epidemic

AIDS Walk LA founder blasts city of Santa Monica over bus advertising ban of non-profits
15 October 2012

AIDS Walk Los Angeles founder and producer Craig Miller had a captive audience of about 30,000 people on Sunday and he wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass him by.

Miller, who founded the walk 28 years ago to raise money for AIDS Project Los Angeles and other area AIDS services organizations, finds himself at war with the city of Santa Monica.

Miller is furious that Santa Monica enacted a policy last month that banned advertisements by non-profit organizations like APLA on the Big Blue Bus, the city’s municipal bus line.

‘This significantly hampered our visibility this year but far more importantly, this absurd policy places the selling of goods over the doing of good and it is dangerous to the fight against AIDS,’ Miller said.

He chided Mayor Richard Bloom for explaining that the ads were banned because of the possibility of the bus ads becoming a forum for ‘counter-productive speech.’

‘I was aware that we had an AIDS epidemic in Santa Monica … but I did not know that we were suffering from an epidemic of counter-productive speech. Nor was I aware that we needed the government’s protection from it,’ said Miller who is suing the city over the matter.

The city has said it erred in allowing the AIDS Walk and other non-profits to purchase bus ads in the past. Bloom made a motion at a council meeting last month to review the policy.

‘The current policy of the Big Blue Bus was not adopted to harm AIDS Walk LA,’ City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie said at the Sept. 11 council meeting. ‘But it was adopted out of the recognition the court decisions on the First Amendment do not allow us, once we open a forum, to distinguish based on message content.’

Miller isn’t having any of it and points to other major cities in the US where bus ads for AIDS walks have been allowed without incident.

‘The leaders of America’s great cities do not allow policies like this to be implemented on their watch,’ he told the crowd on Sunday. ‘The great city of New York under Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed AIDS Walk New York transit ads in the spring and has confirmed that it will again next spring. The great city of San Francisco allows the AIDS Walk San Francisco transit advertising and has confirmed that it will again next summer and the great city of Los Angeles is running AIDS Walk Los Angeles on LA buses right now and has confirmed that they will again next year.’

He noted that in all of these cities, there has been ‘no outbreak of counter-productive speech epidemics have been recorded.’

Said Miller: ‘Why is it that AIDS Walk Los Angeles cares so much about this issue? Because part of what we do here is we honor those we have lost and we cannot appropriately honor those we have lost if we do not pay attention to the elements that contributed to them being cut down and government inaction, government censorship and a lack of visibility of the HIV epidemic is exactly what led us backwards and it is not what we need to move forward.’

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Jake Shears says 'the reaction was pretty bad' when he came out at 15

Ex-Scissor Sisters showman says coming out at 15 'was something I probably shouldn't have done at that time'
No thumbnail available

Connecticut, Washington and New York ban state-funded travel to Indiana

San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, Denver and DC also join boycott
No thumbnail available

Vietnamese intersex woman 'deeply shocked' at decision to revoke gender recognition

Pham Le Quynh Tram says she will appeal authorities' decision to revoke legal recognition of her female gender
No thumbnail available

Couple making film to honor Russian bisexual genius Ivan the Terrible

Russian gay couple and their son want to remind the world of the achievements of the country's LGBT figures
No thumbnail available

US United Church of Christ accused of apostasy for sponsoring Gay Games

The right wing Christian News Network have accused the United Church of Christ of practicing apostasy for their involvement in this year’s Gay Games in Cleveland, Ohio this month
No thumbnail available

US Embassy in Israel bans gay Palestinian speakers

Not a single Palestinian was invited to speak at a reception held by the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel in honor of IDAHO
No thumbnail available

Beyonce’s baby Blue

Beyonce debuts her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, on Tumblr a month after giving birth
No thumbnail available

German designers continue to set the trend

GSN previews some of the highlights we can expect when Berlin Fashion Week presents AW13
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Kris Jenner: 'I feel like Bruce died'

Former couple has emotional talk about their marriage in second part of TV special