Faced with a host of First Amendment lawsuits over the city’s preference for one message – Black Lives Matter – over any other, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted this week that he didn’t bother pushing BLM activists through the permit process for public art. While he insists that the city didn’t turn down other groups who wanted to paint the streets of the city with their own messages, he acknowledged that those groups were referred to the usual permitting channels.
BLM activists, on the other hand, were allowed to go ahead and paint without any such cumbersome red tape.
From the New York Post:
City officials ignored their own application process for public art projects to paint Black Lives Matter murals around the five boroughs, in order to mark an important moment in history, Mayor Bill de Blasio said as his administration faces claims of First Amendment violations for refusing to green-light other proposals.
“We haven’t said ‘no’ to people, we’ve said, ‘If you want to apply, you can apply, but there’s a process,’” de Blasio said during his City Hall press briefing Monday.
The pro-President Trump group Women for America First has sued City Hall for blocking a mural of their slogan “Engaging, Inspiring and Empowering Women to Make a Difference!” on a Manhattan roadway, while allowing multiple BLM paintings throughout the city.
Hizzoner insists he didn’t block the move, just referred groups like Women for America First and the pro-police Blue Lives Matter to the Department of Transportation’s permitting process. But there was no approval required for the BLM movement.
Speaking to reporters, de Blasio said there was a method behind his madness. Namely, the “Black Lives Matter” message is simply more important than any of those others.
“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 said. “But the normal process continues for anyone who wants to apply.”
Yeah, except that’s the exact sort of First Amendment violation that your critics are talking about, Bill. The city can’t simply decide which forms of public speech deserve a boost from the government while sending all the rest through a labyrinthian, opaque process of regulation. That’s unfair, unethical, and completely illegal.
The truth is, there’s nothing about Black Lives Matter that “transcends” our politics, and it certainly doesn’t transcend the Constitution. We know a lot of liberals subscribe to the belief that just because they say it’s true, it actually is true, but that’s just not the case. Sooner than later, de Blasio is going to realize that through a court of law.