Pastor Sues Washington Mayor Over Political Street Lettering

June 15, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
The Washington Monument and the White House are visible behind the words Black Lives Matter sign that has been painted in bright yellow letters on the 16th Street by city workers and activists, Friday, June 5, 2020, in Washington. (Khalid Naji-Allah/Executive Office of the Mayor via AP)

A self-described street pastor is suing Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser over her decision to commission a street mural that says “Black Lives Matter” in large letters on a street near the White House.

The lawsuit filed by Rich Penkoski says the mayor is violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause that requires a separation of church and state.

He accused Bowser of showing a governmental preference for a “cult orthodoxy” by allowing the yellow lettering painted on two blocks of 16th Street NW.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington also says the mayor’s decision to change the name on part of a street to “Black Lives Matter Plaza” shows she is trying “to pay respect to the Black Lives Matter liturgy at the taxpayers expense.”

Penkoski, who heads the group D.C. Chapter of the Warriors for Christ, is not opposed to religion, only what he describes as Bowser’s preferential treatment for the religiously affiliated Black Lives Matter movement.

The lawsuit also accuses the mayor of violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because the street mural allegedly implies black people are the city’s favored race. 

The Equal Protection Clause says “nor shall any State […] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

The lawsuit says, “Defendant Bowser’s paramount objective was to convey to the plaintiffs and all other taxpayers the Black Lives Matter cult, which is a denominational sect of the religion of Secular Humanism, is the favored religion of the city and the nation and that another who disagrees with their gospel narrative is a second class citizen.”

The mayor commissioned the street mural with 35-foot wide lettering last week ahead of a huge demonstration. It was part of the racial protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

The painters were hired by the city’s Department of Public Works.

The outcry against the street lettering was joined by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch.

The group asked Bowser for permission to paint “Because No One is Above the Law!” on a Capitol Hill street.

“Mayor Bowser made a decision to turn D.C. streets into a forum for public expression,” Judicial Watch said in a statement. “Judicial Watch seeks equal access to use this new forum to educate Americans…”

The lawsuit by Penkoski and two other men also seeks equal access for street lettering.

They want three murals in the streets, one reading “Blue Lives Matter” in a reference to police,”’Green Lives Matter” for the National Guard and “All Lives Matter.”

The plaintiffs were further offended by the mayor’s decision to rename a corner of Lafayette Square as “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” They want a different street corner to be renamed “Jesus is the answer Plaza.”

Black Lives Matter Plaza lies near the church where President Trump arranged a controversial photo opportunity in which he held up a Bible.

The lawsuit seeks damages for mental anguish and emotional distress. It alleges a violation of the plaintiffs’ “constitutional rights.”

No specific monetary amount was listed in the claim for damages.

The other plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are Chris Servier, a former military attorney; and Tex Christopher, a lobbyist.

Bowser said in a television interview that although she supports the Black Lives Matter movement, she does not support their calls to defund the police.

The activists want the money for police turned over to community education on social justice issues.

Instead, Bowser proposes increasing the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department budget.

She also supports restrictions on police authority, such as banning chokeholds, no more use of rubber bullets against protesters and limited authority for tear gas.

Litigation

Census Bureau Reverses Course on Layoffs After Court Order
Census
Census Bureau Reverses Course on Layoffs After Court Order
September 8, 2020
by Dan McCue

The Census Bureau told a federal judge on Tuesday that it will delay laying off some census takers and will restore quality-control measures it had already begun winding down as the end of the once-a-decade population count nears its end. The notice, in a court filing,... Read More

Tech Giants Try to Dismiss Lawsuit Accusing Them of Child Labor Violation
Litigation
Tech Giants Try to Dismiss Lawsuit Accusing Them of Child Labor Violation
August 27, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Some of America’s technology giants are trying to get a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing them of promoting the use of children to mine cobalt for their lithium-ion batteries. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla said in their motion to dismiss this... Read More

Trump Campaign Lawsuit Over Ballot Drop Boxes is Placed on Hold
Litigation
Trump Campaign Lawsuit Over Ballot Drop Boxes is Placed on Hold

A lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign seeking to block Pennsylvania counties from using drop boxes to collect mail-in ballots was put on hold Sunday by a federal judge who said state courts should have a chance to decide the matter first. U.S. District Judge J.... Read More

Voter Lawsuit Aims to Block Mask Mandate at Minnesota Polling Places
Litigation
Voter Lawsuit Aims to Block Mask Mandate at Minnesota Polling Places

MINNEAPOLIS — A group of voters backed by Republican legislators sued Gov. Tim Walz and other state and local officials Tuesday in federal court, aiming to block a face mask requirement at polling places. Members of the Minnesota Voters Alliance and GOP lawmakers contend Walz’s mask... Read More

2020 Election Will Be Most Litigated in US History
Political News
2020 Election Will Be Most Litigated in US History

The 2020 election between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is shaping up to be the most litigated in U.S. history, as changes to balloting prompted by the coronavirus pandemic spur lawsuits that could leave the outcome in suspense for days or even weeks. A recent... Read More

Trump Administration Walks Back Rule on Foreign Students
Education
Trump Administration Walks Back Rule on Foreign Students
July 14, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top