Lawsuit: GRTC unjustly censored ad targeting deadly McGuire VA animal research

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The GRTC has been slapped with a lawsuit after denying a group advertising space on their buses. The lawsuit is centered around ads regarding animal research at McGuire VA Medical Center.

A taxpayer watchdog group argues the public has a right to know that their tax dollars are being spent on what they call abusive dog testing at McGuire.

The group, White Coat Waste Project, wanted to run on GRTC buses back in March, but GRTC denied their request.

“GRTC denied them the right to advertise claiming that they have a prohibition on all political ads,” an attorney representing the group told 8News.

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The ads that eventually went up at area gas stations opposed the use of dogs in research at McGuire VA.

Matthew Strugar, an attorney who represents the White Coat Waste Project, argues that GRTC’s policy violates 1st and 14th amendment rights.

“The ban on political ads allows GRTC, which is a government agency, to pick and choose among the viewpoints that it wants to publish,” he explained.

For example, the lawsuit claims GRTC allowed ads for the vice presidential debate at Longwood University last year, yet pulled ads advocating to keep hospitals fast-food free — calling it political.

“Basically GRTC is deciding what they think is controversial, calling it political and then prohibiting the controversial viewpoints from being expressed,” Strugar added.

GRTC told 8News it hasn’t seen the lawsuit, but said it denied the ad in compliance with GRTC bus advertising policy set forth by its board of directors.

Meanwhile, Virginia Senator Glen Sturtevant told 8News that he’s ‘troubled’ by the allegations.

“I’m troubled by allegations that the City of Richmond’s public transit system may be improperly censoring certain messages from being advertised on city buses,” Sturtevant said.

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