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AIDS Walk Concludes Despite Obstacle
Posted by Michael Lambrose on Oct 15, 2012 - 3:39:12 PM

SANTA MONICAOn Sunday, October 14, AIDS Walk Los Angeles took place at 10:00 a.m. in West Hollywood.  The event, which started in West Hollywood Park, consisted of nearly 30,000 who traversed the ten kilometer route extending through West Hollywood and parts of the City of Los Angeles.
Aids Walk Los Angeles Photo By Donna F. Acete

In a press release, the organization promoting the event reported that it raised $2,912,209 for 30 AIDS service organizations in L.A. County including AIDS Project Los Angeles.  These groups, according to the press release, provide not only AIDS prevention work in Los Angeles County, but also assist individuals living with HIV/AIDS.  Over the last 30 years AIDS Walk Los Angeles has raised more than $75 million for HIV/AIDS programs within the Los Angeles County.

A number of notable elected officials and celebrities also participated in the event.  Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa and West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Abbe Land took part in the opening ceremony.  Drew Carey (“The Price is Right” host), Andrew Rannells (“The New Normal,” “Girls”) and Dot Marie Jones (“Glee”) were just a few of the celebrities that attended the event.  Companies like ABC7, Delta Air Lines, Paramount Pictures, Time Warner Cable and Toyota also demonstrated the continued support of the event by Los Angeles’ corporate community.

There were, however, a number of obstacles AIDS Walk Los Angeles faced leading up to this year’s event.  A newly enforced policy for the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus transit line now only allows commercial advertising.  This prevents AIDS Walk Los Angeles and other charities from buying fully paid ad space on the buses.  AIDS Walk Los Angeles founder Craig Miller stated in a press release that this new policy not only affected the organization's ability to raise money and increase awareness, but also threatened the group’s freedom of speech—labeling the policy “censorship.”

Although the Big Blue Bus has allowed such ads in the past, the city is now enforcing the long-held policy of commercial advertisements only, contending that the City Council does not want the transit bus system to turn into a public forum.  A federal judge sided with the City of Santa Monica, stating that there was no infringement upon civil liberties, after the issue went to court.


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