Chapel Hill, N.C. — A political advertisement calling for the end of U.S. military aid to Israel that was posted inside Chapel Hill buses has been pulled, but town officials say it's not because the ad prompted objections from some riders.
Officials said the ad, which ran in as many as 100 buses between Aug. 13-24, was pulled earlier this week because it did not include contact information for the Church of Reconciliation, which purchased it. The town code requires such information on display ads that are political or religious.
The decision both to run the ad and pull it has some questioning the town’s motives.
One of the five complaints town leaders received read: "As a daily user of the bus system, a grad student at UNC and a NC taxpayer, I find it extremely offensive to have to see this propaganda on my daily rides."
Steve Spade, the Chapel Hill transit director, said the message in the ad is not what led to its removal.
"It doesn't meet the policy for disclaimers that was approved by the council," Spade said. "Once we know something like that, we can't allow the ad to run."
Mark Davidson, pastor of the Church of Reconciliation, a USA Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill, said the ad wasn't intended to offend anyone and was run as a message of peace.
"Our hope is that this will be a catalyst for reflection, conversation and action on a very important issue of our time," he said. "We've been a little surprised, and quite frankly disappointed, that the town of Chapel Hill seems to be quite afraid of this controversy."
If the church resubmits the ad and includes the necessary information, Spade said, it could be up again in a few days.
"If we have an ad that has the proper disclaimer on it, then we have told them we will make every effort to get it up for them by this weekend," he said.
Callie Lewger, a bus rider in Chapel Hill who saw the ad, said she was "not necessarily offended" by the message.
"I just thought it was an unusual ad for the bus," she said.
Melissa Jones said she supports Israel and disagrees with the ad's message, but also thinks it's important for people to be able to express their views.
"We live in a country of freedom where we do get to express our individuality," Jones said.