By Vinnee Tong
Earlier this year, ten San Francisco Muni buses featured Islamophobic ads that upset a lot of people.
Now a San Francisco resident has used a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to put up a billboard intended as a counterpoint to those ads.
The billboard went up on Monday on 10th Street in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. It reads: “Hate Has No Place in Our City: San Francisco Embraces Diversity and Acceptance, Not Hate and Bigotry.”
The billboard is nearly 50 feet wide and was funded by $3,000 raised from roughly 100 people across the country and overseas.
Christie George is a co-founder of the crowdfunding startup Louder. She started the campaign to fund the billboard and says it’s intended to answer the hate in the Muni ads with something positive.
“Our hope is that people are reminded of how much opportunity there is to celebrate the diversity of their neighbors and their friends,” George says.
The Muni ads were funded by the controversial group American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is backed by conservative blogger Pamela Geller.
Geller told KQED News by email that she thinks the Louder billboard actually echoes her ads. “We are a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and equality for all before the law,” she wrote.
The ads, which appeared in March, were denounced by local politicians including Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascon and seven city supervisors.
A lawsuit in New York seems to have established the ads are protected as free speech, so city officials say they felt they had no choice but to run them. UPI has reported that Muni will give the $5,000 in revenue to the city’s Human Rights Commission.
The new billboard is scheduled to stay up for a month. It’s estimated it’ll get more than 200,000 views a week.