PETA sues Airport Authority over anti-SeaWorld ad

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SAN DIEGO- An animal rights organization is suing the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority over its refusal to run an anti-SeaWorld advertisement.

The 11-page complaint, by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

PETA officials claim they tried to buy ad space at Lindbergh Field, but were rejected because of the ad’s anti-SeaWorld position.

The ad features San Diego native Kathy Najimy, an actress known for her roles in Sister Act and Hocus Pocus. It reads: “If you love animals like I do, please avoid SeaWorld.”

PETA planned to spend $17,500 to place the ad at Lindbergh Field.

According to PETA, the ad was rejected by JCDecaux North America, the advertising agency for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The complaint claims the agency would not run the ad because “it does not conform to [JCDecaux’s] internal policies on advertising.”

After repeated requests to have the guidelines explained, PETA claims the agency said the advertisement violated “JCDecaux’s internal, non-public policy against advertisements that are ‘disparaging’ or ‘demeaning.’”

PETA’s Associate Director of Campaigns Lindsay Rajt said rejecting the ad violates the right to free speech.

“When you are a government owned entity like the San Diego Airport, you can’t arbitrarily allow ads that glorify SeaWorld’s business interests and urge people to contribute to the suffering of orcas and other animals, while on the other hand banning the ads that encourage people to help animals by not going to SeaWorld,” she said.

PETA filed the lawsuit jointly with the American Civil Liberties Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Rebecca Bloomfield, a spokesperson for the Airport Authority, declined Fox 5’s request for an interview. In an email Tuesday she said, “The Airport Authority makes it a practice not to talk about issues concerning pending litigation.”

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