The city of Bloomington has now responded to an application submitted in December by Indiana University student Brian Reynolds for the installation of a mural on Kirkwood Avenue that says “All Lives Matter.”
In its response, the city has told Reynolds that such a mural, with words and letters, is not allowed as permanent art under the city’s newly adopted policy on the installation of private art in the public right-of-way.
Based on the city’s response, and the litigation backdropping the request, if Reynolds is eventually allowed to install his mural, it looks somewhat unlikely that it would be on the requested date of April 3, 2023.
It was under a court order that the city’s new policy on private art in the public right-of-way was developed.
That order came in connection with a lawsuit that Reynolds filed, after being denied permission to paint a mural in 2021. The court found that the city’s refusal in 2021 to allow Reynolds to paint his mural likely amounted to viewpoint discrimination, and issued a preliminary injunction.
Bloomington’s policy was adopted by the board of public works at its Dec. 20, 2023 meeting.
Reynolds’ proposed mural is not allowed as a permanent mural, because it contains “speech,” which is defined under the policy as “words, letters, numbers, or universally recognized symbols, or logos of any kind.”
In an email message dated Jan. 3, 2023, city attorney Mike Rouker wrote to Reynolds: “I’ve attached the policy for your review. Would you like to submit an alternative proposal that is consistent with the policy’s prohibition on speech?”
Rouker’s response does not call the city’s response a denial of the request. Instead Rouker describes his message to Reynolds as “initial comments/questions regarding the proposal.”
Some other issues covered by Rouker in his message include Reynolds’ omission of some required elements for an application that is made under the new policy: the name and qualifications of the artist who will be painting the mural; the type of material to be used to paint the mural; a certificate of insurance; and a scaled drawing.
About Reynolds’ plan for the traffic detour, Rouker asks if the option with flaggers would use Indiana University police department officers, certified flaggers, or someone else.