Chicago Alderman Abridges Freedom of Speech, Orders Mural Painted Over

Chicago alderman Jim Balcer hates public art, because it may or may not contain gang symbols. He can't be sure.

That's why he had a public mural painted over.

According to a story on NBC5, Chicago's NBC affilliate,
Artist Gabriel Villa had been commissioned to paint a mural on some private property. He was going for something edgy, so his mural showed some Chicago Police surveillance cameras with a skull, deer's head, and a crucifix.

Balcer also claimed that the mural didn't have the proper permits, and two official estimates from union shops, plus an extra artist with seniority to stand around watching the first artist paint.

Villa said it was censorship. The kind where governments can't make laws abridging the free expresion of yada yada yada.

"Did you just yada yada the Constitution? You can't yada yada the Constitution."

"From what I've been told by zoning, you have to have a permit," Balcer told NBC5. "He did not have a permit. Number two, we received complaints about it, so I had it removed."

But a spokesperson for the Zoning Department said they don't provide permits for neighborhood mural paintings.

Balcer says he was not trying to trample the artist's rights curtail Villa's freedom.

"Everyone has a right to their opinion," he said. "But there's limits. He has to follow the law, this artist, like everyone else."

The law? You mean, like the First Amendment? The most important amendment in all of our laws that it's very first in the entire list of laws?


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