New York-Based Artist Claims Government Officials Have Violated 1st Amendment

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New York-based artist claims government officials have violated 1st AmendmentAn artist in Greenwood Lake, New York has filed a lawsuit against the local government alleging that the town's mayor and board members have violated her 1st Amendment rights.

According to The New York Times, Melanie Gold received $4,000 in grants from the Orange County Tourism Board last year in order to complete a community art project on private property. However, Greenwood Lake Mayor Barbara Moore did not support the initiative and, as a result, the town's board enacted a moratorium on public art until May 1, which is the same day that Gold's grant expires.

After Gold displayed three art pieces on Feb. 6, the town fined the building owner and threatened imprisonment or more penalties if the paintings were not removed by Feb. 22. Gold contacted a group called Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and was granted free legal representation. Last week, the artist filed a complaint with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking an injunction that would remove the art ban and declare it unConstitutional.

"This moratorium is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment," said David Leichtman, one of Gold's attorneys. "It is astonishing that in 2011 a local government believes it has the authority to prohibit citizens from exercising their right to communicate with each other. The law is very clear that this is not a lawful exercise of police power."  

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