Richmond Public Transit Sued for Silencing Anti-Vivisection Ads

Today my office filed suit on behalf of White Coat Waste against the Greater Richmond Transit Company for refusing to run White Coat Waste's advertisement criticizing deadly and invasive dog experiments at the Richmond-based Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Researchers at the McGuire VAMC have induced heart attacks in dogs, surgically implanted pacemakers in dogs and forced them to run on treadmills, and killed dogs in botched surgeries. The McGuire VAMC is the only federal laboratory conducting maximum pain experiments on dogs in which pain relief is intentionally withheld.

Because the McGuire VA’s dog experiments are funded by taxpayers, White Coat Waste Project attempted to run this ads on Richmond buses in conjunction with Tax Week this past April:

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The transit company rejected the ad citing its vague policy against “political ads.”

Records obtained by White Coat Waste revealed that the transit company has recently run ads for events as "political" as the Vice Presidential debate. 

Those records also revealed that the transit company rejected ads advocating for removal of fast food restaurants from hospitals on the basis that they were "political." But the transit company's same policies would allow those fast food companies to advertise on their buses.

The transit company is operated by the City of Richmond and Chesterfield County, and as a result must follow the First Amendment like any other government actors. By discriminating against advertisers like White Coat Waste  based on their identity or message, and allowing one side of a debate to get its message out while silencing the other side, the transit company is violating the First Amendment. 

You can view a copy of the complaint here.