Editorial: “Black Lives Matter” was painted on a Tulsa street without a permit and when asked by Police, Ryan Rhoades, the acknowledged artist/activist lied. Bragging later to the newspaper he was quoted saying, “(The Officer) thought we were just doing chalk and told us we were fine… He just saw the chalk; we had the paint hidden.”
So why should taxpayers pay for the clean up? Criminal acts of Rhoades and company must at least include lying to law enforcement and defacing public property. They should pay to have it removed – start a GoFundMe page, have a car wash or pass the hat at their next political rally, but Tulsa taxpayers should not pay the bill.
Senior Assistant City Attorney Mark Swiney said Wednesday at City Council that while councilors have authority to approve event related temporary street closings, “there really isn’t anything in our laws that make a street into canvas to convey a message or to essentially make a sign out of a street surface.”
City Attorney David O’Meilia said “There is a constitutional issue that goes on around this, that if you permit that kind of thing … then you would open any street in your community to any type of message that wasn’t pornographic or inciting a riot,” O’Meilia said.
The topic came up after the Republican Party of Tulsa County Chairman Bob Jack requested formal permission to paint “Back the Blue” on another street. Other citizens called Councilors to request a “Baby Lives Matter” mural in front of an abortion clinic. It would not take long to get out of hand in Tulsa if messages on politics, relationships or religion were emblazoned on public streets. “Honey, I’m pregnant” or “Grand Kids Rock” could be fun to see on a street, but not at taxpayer expense.
Mayoral Chief of Staff Jack Blair at the Wednesday meeting said the city was “caught in a quandary. It’s kind of an all-or-nothing question,” he said.
Briana Shea helped lead the effort to get “Black Lives Matter” painted. She said dozens of volunteers worked overnight to create the 250-foot-long sign according to media reports. Apparently the group has 10,000 signatures on a petition to keep the paint on the street as supporters try to justify crime(s).
Great. If they set up a GoFundMe or other funding page, Tulsa Today will publicize and contribute to the effort, regardless, citizen taxes should not be spent to pay for the clean-up. Your opinions are welcome below.