New York streets suddenly became a controversial forum for free speech. On Monday, mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted an image of city workers touching up the street mural Black Lives Matter activists painted in front of Trump Tower. The mayor’s tweet included the message, “To whoever vandalized our mural on 5th Avenue: nice try. @NYC_DOT has already fixed it.”
The mayor’s message was decidedly political and divisive. “The #BlackLives Matter movement is more than words, and it can’t be undone,” he wrote.
#BlackLivesMatter is an emotionally-charged topic for most Americans. Far from being an all-inclusive movement aimed at uniting our country following the death of George Floyd, the BLM movement turned into a lightening rod for a Marxist-like revolution characterized by hatred towards civil authority, American history, and now, Christianity.
Mayor de Blasio’s tweet was met with scathing backlash:
Mayor de Blasio’s use of public funding to endorse divisive political messages is sure to open up a litany of court cases.
As we’ve seen year after year in Christmas nativity display controversies, courts have ruled the public square can not be used to advance one particular viewpoint over another.
In 2008, the ACLU was instrumental in causing Clarksville, Tennessee to lose its live nativity display since the city paid two hundred dollars in animal rental fees.
Similarly, in 2019 Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claimed Jackson County, Indiana officials overstepped the Constitution by erecting a nativity display on its county courthouse lawn. FFRF sent a letter to Jackson County commissioners claiming, “It is unlawful for the County to maintain, erect, or host a holiday display that consists solely of a nativity scene, thus singling out, showing preference for, and endorsing one religion.”
It’s reasonable to believe the viewpoint discrimination principle likewise applies to Mayor de Blasio’s public endorsement of the controversial Black Lives Matter movement. His use of city workers and public funding to show preference for the revolutionary movement make this an interesting case to watch.