SELAH, Wash. — An attorney is warning Selah city officials that erasing chalk art that promotes the Black Lives Matter message is an unconstitutional infringement of free-expression rights.
Seattle-based attorney Joseph Cutler’s letter to Selah police Chief Richard Hayes was dated Monday, the same day that a Selah city employee erased a new pro-Black Lives Matter message drawn in chalk on the sidewalk in front of Selah City Hall.
“Targeting minorities for selective law enforcement and quelling constitutionally protected speech under the color of law is illegal,” Cutler wrote, referencing a letter Hayes wrote to Alejandro Fabian June 8, warning them that the Black Lives Matter chalk art in the street in front of their home constituted illegal graffiti.
Laura Perez, Fabian's mother, said city crews have removed art from the street in front of her home, using street sweepers and water trucks. Crews came by again on Tuesday.
It is the fourth time this month city street cleaners have been to the dead-end street to remove chalk art, Cutler said.
Protesters recorded a video Monday of a city employee removing chalk art in front of city hall.
In the video, two police officers not wearing masks are seen talking to one of the protesters who is standing by a chalk art showing the letters BLM drawn in the same style as Selah’s apple logo. As they are talking, Clerk/Treasurer Dale Novobielski walks over and dumps a bucket of water on the chalk art, washing it away.
Black Lives Matter protesters have focused their attention on Selah’s administrator, Don Wayman, after he publicly called the anti-police-brutality movement “a neo-Marxist organization” and said its supporters were “devoid of intellect and reason.”
Protesters are calling for Wayman to either resign or be fired, and have called for a boycott of Mayor Sherry Raymond’s businesses until Wayman is out.
Wayman, contacted Tuesday morning, refused to comment on either Cutler’s letter or the incident in front of city hall.
This story will be updated.