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MTA demands ad depicting murder be removed from subways

MIDTOWN, Manhattan — They were so disturbing to so many people, that the MTA ordered all posters advertising the New York Haunted Hayride at Randalls Island removed from subway cars.

The order went out last week. But by Wednesday, the posters are still up, leaving the MTA to have to answer to criticism while passengers, particularly those with children, try to avert their eyes.

Official MTA policy states that all 5.65 million of the subway's daily riders have the right to "a safe, welcoming environment" on the train. However, many passengers feel that the controversial poster leaves them feeling neither safe nor welcoming.

"It's creepy for kids and adults," said C train passenger Sheraya Mayo. "It may be Halloween, but some kids don't take that stuff too well."

Marina Smikic, another passenger, concurred. "It is disturbing, now that I realize it's there," she told PIX11 News, "especially if you're a kid, I guess."

It's not just riders who feel that way about the poster's image. It shows a young woman or girl being asphyxiated with a plastic bag over her head that's held in place with a noose.

The MTA determined that the ad violated its advertising policy by being "so violent, frightening, or otherwise disturbing as to reasonably be deemed harmful to minors."

Agreeing with that statement was passenger Sarah Borriello's five year-old, who was riding the subway with her and his three year-old sister.

"As far as it being up there," Borriello said, referring to the poster displayed above her on the train, "I just asked my son and he said it's creepy."

It's why the MTA ordered its advertising contractor, OutFront Media, to immediately remove the ads last Friday.

However, PIX11 News did not have to spend much time at all to find the ads still on display in cars on the 7 and C trains on Wednesday. It's a fact that left some riders, including Borriello, unhappy, to say the least.

"If they said they're going to take it down," the New York mother of two said, "it should be down."

Late Wednesday afternoon, Beth De Falco, a spokesperson for the MTA, responded. She said that "it takes some time" for the removal order to be completed, and that the MTA did not want to "inconvenience customers" by taking too many cars out of service in order to remove the ads.

Meanwhile, many of those same customers are inconvenienced by having to see the ad that they'd rather do without.

Some customers, however, had no objection to the posters. Peyton Brandt, a rider on the C train, said that she found the ads to be very effective.

Her language in describing the poster was very similar to that used by people who'd complained about it. "It looks creepy," Brandt told PIX11 News.

However, she said, that was the point, and it was a positive one. "I like spooky things," she said. "It makes me want to go."

She may have ads on the subway to remind her for days to come, according to the MTA.