June 30 Chalk Art.JPG

Protesters draw chalk art on the sidewalk and steps in front of Selah City Hall on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 in Selah, Wash. About 35 people marched from the Selah Civic Center to Selah City Hall where people took turns speaking about racism and LGBTQ discrimination before drawing and writing messages in chalk.

SELAH — The agenda for Selah’s City Council meeting on Tuesday does not include discussions about whether chalk art is graffiti or city employee conduct.

The council’s agenda document, released Friday afternoon, did not list the graffiti ordinance or the proposed code of conduct that city officials had earlier said would be discussed at the meeting.

Calls to Mayor Sherry Raymond were not returned by press time, while City Administrator Don Wayman refused to comment.

“You can watch it when it goes on Zoom,” Wayman said, referring to the videoconferencing software the city uses to conduct its council meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During a June 24 council meeting, after members met behind closed doors to discuss complaints about Wayman’s characterization of Black Lives Matter as a “neo-Marxist organization,” members unanimously voted to have a code of conduct for city officials and employees ready for Tuesday’s council meeting.

Wayman’s remarks led to protests in the city, calls for him to be fired and boycotts of Raymond’s restaurants until Wayman either resigns or is fired.

At the same meeting, Raymond also said the city would be reviewing its anti-graffiti ordinance and come back with a recommendation on whether to classify water-soluble chalk as a “graffiti implement.” City officials have repeatedly erased Black Lives Matter chalk art from a dead end on Lacey Avenue and the sidewalk in front of Selah City Hall, saying it was illegal graffiti.

Joseph Cutler, an attorney representing the family that created some of the chalk art, said the city’s graffiti code does not list chalk as a graffiti tool, and that the city was selectively erasing art supporting Black Lives Matter and criticizing Wayman while leaving chalk drawings supporting Selah High graduates untouched. That, he said, was a violation of the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee.

The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast online via Zoom at https://bit.ly/SelahCouncil.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.