Two pro-police organizations are suing Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for blocking them from painting a "Blue Lives Matter" mural outside the NYC police department last month while at the same time commissioning the painting of "Black Lives Matter" murals across the city.
The groups, Blue Lives Matter NYC and Standing Up for NYC, filed the lawsuit late Monday night, the New York Post reported.
In the suit, they accuse de Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg of violating their First Amendment rights by allowing "city property to be used by private speakers" but refusing to allow a similar message to be constructed in support of police.
In July, the groups sent a letter to the mayor requesting his permission to paint the mural, which they said was intended to "raise awareness regarding preventable murders of those who swore an oath to serve and protect their communities" and "honor the lives and memory of public servants whose heroic lives ended too soon."
But de Blasio refused to grant them permission.
We have respectfully requested permission to Mayor @BilldeBlasio to bring awareness to the daily physical & verbal… https://t.co/b205HaXzPy— Blue Lives Matter NY (@Blue Lives Matter NY)1594837753.0
In a media briefing in late July, the mayor defended his decision to allow Black Lives Matter murals while rejecting others, arguing that the BLM movement "transcends any notion of politics" and is a "seismic moment in this country's history."
"This is about something much bigger than any one group," he added.
In the lawsuit, the two pro-cop groups took umbrage at that perspective.
"The 'Black Lives Matter' message is highly political and is generally understood by the public to be and support a general anti-police message, include some extreme measures as defunding the police and ending police activity," it reads.
Sgt. Joe Imperatrice, the founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC, told the Post that he simply wanted "to be granted the same privilege to bring to light a cause that we so believe in would change the trajectory of equality for all those with the same interest."
Tatiana Davidoff, co-founder of Standing Up for NYC, added: "This mural is the smallest thing we could do to show our respect for them during these controversial times."
Last month, in expectation of the mayor's rejection, the two groups reportedly hired a constitutional lawyer to represent them.
Speaking with Advance/SILive.com, Davidoff questioned: "Once we start painting things on the street, who is there to decide whose life is more important as far as the message goes?"
Her fellow co-founder, Jason Cohen, said: "Once you open up the flood gates and you paint any life matters or whatever on a public street, you are giving other groups the constitutional freedom … to paint whatever they want because you can't take sides and this mayor is taking sides. It's hypocrisy."