Argues allowing Black Lives Matter messages makes roadway a public forum
Last week, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser granted permission to have “Black Lives Matter” painted on 16th Street N.W.
Later she allowed “Defund the Police” to also be painted nearby.
Now, a government watchdog, arguing the mayor has made the streets a public forum, wants its own slogan on a street, “Because No One is Above the Law!”
”Mayor Bowser made a decision to turn D.C. streets into a forum for public expression,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch seeks equal access to use this new forum to educate Americans by painting our organization’s motto and motivation, ‘Because No One Is Above the Law!,’ on a Capitol Hill street.
Fitton said the rule of law message “is timely, as it a reminder that rule of law applies to – and protects – all Americans.”
“If we are unlawfully denied access and face viewpoint discrimination, we are prepared to go to court to vindicate our First Amendment rights,” he said.
The slogans were approved by officials as rioters hit cities across the nation in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.
In a letter to Bowser and other D.C. leaders, Judicial Watch said: “We note with interest Mayor Bowser’s recent decision approving the painting of ‘Black Lives Matter’ on 16th Street NW and the approval of and/or acquiescence in the painting of ‘Defund the Police’ alongside the first message. Both messages are expressive activity.”
The letter explains the Judicial Watch motto is “particularly relevant today because it applies “equally to law enforcement and public officials as well as to protesters, looters, and rioters.”
And since Washington streets now are “being used as public fora for expressive activity, we would like to have our motto painted on a street, preferably Independence Avenue SW, between 2nd and 4th Streets SW, which is near our offices.”
Judicial Watch said it would pay the cost of the painting but would “likely need the assistance of the D.C. Government to aid in traffic diversion and parking restrictions while the painting is completed.”
“Of course, the painting could be completed when traffic is typically light, as was done with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ message.”
The organization asks for a response within three days, since “the timeliness of our message is important.”