NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has revealed that city officials ignored the application process for artwork in order to paint five murals in the New York City boroughs, arguing that the "Black Lives Matter" messaging was too important to go through the required channels.
"That is something that again transcends all normal realities because we are at a moment of history when that had to be said and done, that’s a decision I made," de Blasio proclaimed of his choice to edit the free speech of those he didn't agree with politically while usurping the laws of the city.
The mayor is now facing accusations of First Amendment violations for refusing to grant permission to other projects, especially conservative artworks.
Last month, de Blasio announced the city would paint “Black Lives Matter” street murals in every borough and rename streets to match the message on the heels of nationwide racial injustice protests following the death of George Floyd.
De Blasio has indicated he would not allow Blue Lives Matter and other pro-police groups to paint messages in support of law enforcement on streets.
The city recently sent Staten Island artist Scott LoBaido a cease and desist letter requesting that he remove the bright blue line he painted along a divider on Hylan Boulevard outside of the 122nd precinct. The letter asserted that if he did not comply, he faced summonses or other “legal actions.”
Women for America First, a pro-Trump female empowerment group, sued the city for hindering the creation of a mural with the slogan "Engaging, Inspiring and Empowering Women to Make a Difference!” on a Manhattan roadway.
On Monday during his City Hall press briefing, de Blasio claimed he never directly said "no" but emphasized these groups must follow the proper protocols for getting permission from the city to display their work.
"If you want to apply, you can apply, but there’s a process,” he said.
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg provided little insight when asked about the hypocrisy in the application forms.
“Anyone can apply through our public art program. As the mayor has said, the city does have discretion as well on painting those projects,” Trottenberg said in a statement.
Norman Siegel, a civil liberties attorney, said de Blasio’s argument won’t hold up in court, according to the New York Post.
“Once you open the door and allow Black Lives Matter murals to be on the streets of New York, you can’t now turn down Blue Lives Matter. That would be a violation of the free speech provision of the Constitution,” Siegel told the outlet.