After the latest rounds of protests and riots broke out, elected officials in many major cities rushed to try to be the first ones to “out-woke” the rest by allowing massive “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” murals to be painted on their municipal streets. One showed up almost immediately outside of Trump Tower in the Big Apple, with the Mayor promising five more to “decorate” every borough of Gotham. The fact that this was all being done by executive decree rather than having the City Council amend the appropriate codes and order the requisite permits to be issued didn’t seem to bother anyone.
But as we’ve discussed here before, these actions clearly set a new precedent. The streets of New York (and Chicago and Minneapolis and too many others to name here) were now established as allowable venues for publicly created artwork rather than just the requisite lines and characters needed to direct the flow of traffic and parking. And if one group is allowed to do this, anyone with a partisan message to spread should be eligible to do the same, right? That question will once again be put to the test now that some groups who wish to show their support for and gratitude to New York’s men and women in blue have sent Hizzoner a letter requesting permission to paint an equally large mural reading “BLUE LIVES MATTER” near Police Square. So will this project get the thumbs up as well? (CBS New York)
In response to the Black Lives Matter mural painted on Fifth Avenue, two police advocacy groups are asking Mayor Bill de Blasio for their chance to make a statement.
Blue Lives Matter NYC and Standing Up For NYC have asked to paint a “Blue Lives Matter” mural on Madison Street near One Police Plaza.
The groups say the mural would raise awareness and honor the memories of officers killed in the line of duty.
The mayor’s office says they are reviewing the letter.
Seems like a simple enough request, doesn’t it? If the streets are fair game for the painting of massive murals carrying politically charged messages, having one to honor the fallen among our law enforcement officers certainly couldn’t be seen as offensive. Or could it? In today’s hotbed of anger out in the streets, with much of the violence being directed toward the police themselves, it’s a fair bet that plenty of people will be angry.
For his part, the Mayor has only said that he’s “reviewing the letter.” Really? He didn’t seem to spend much time “reviewing” anything when somebody suggested the Black Lives Matter mural. In fact, Bill de Blasio rolled up his sleeves and went out into the streets to help paint it himself. I’m sure that was a great photo op, but perhaps he didn’t realize the precedent he was setting by doing it.
Of course, this isn’t even the first time we’ve seen this trend begin to spread. Regular readers may recall that Judicial Watch has a lawsuit pending against the Mayor of the District of Columbia, asking that they be allowed to paint an equally large mural in the streets of DC reading “Because No One Is Above the Law!” Yet again, you might think that such an obvious truism, enshrined in our own Constitution, would be one of the least controversial slogans imaginable. And yet Mayor Muriel Bowser has similarly said she needed time to “consider the request” and has completely failed to get back to the plaintiffs in a timely fashion.
It’s a complicated web we weave when municipal executives decide to break out their executive order pens and issue sweeping changes to the normal rules of order without going through the legislature first. Such rash actions have a tendency to come back and bite them, particularly when their feel-good efforts aren’t thought through very carefully. Break out the popcorn and stay tuned. There may be some petard-hoisting on the way in the near future.