Salem, Oregon, the city council has come down on a city business owner who had a mural painted at his business honoring the American flag raised by U.S. Marines at Iwo Jima. Many city residents and visitors thought the art was a moving memorial and an attractive addition to the cityscape. The painting was professionally done by a local artist commissioned by the owner to express his patriotic feelings.
Nevertheless, the Salem City Council issued a command that the owner remove the mural or face the threat of fines up to $200 per day.
Mario De Leon is the artist who painted the mural, and he brought public attention to the council’s order through a Facebook post. He told followers that the painting is entirely on private property far away from the street or any public property. He announced a petition to protect the art and the property owner from fines.
A commenter on the post observed that the root of the problem is the Salem City Public Art Committee. The poster said that the committee demands that it sanction all art viewable by the public, even on private property.
Social media commenters also pointed out that the Salem City Council has recently taken a hard progressive turn as several conservative members have retired. Others have pointed out that the city’s sign ordinance should have no control over the mural, as it is on the rear side of the building, far from its entrance.
A friend of the business owner has stated support of a petition to the council to rescind its order. It describes the mural and explains how simple it would be for the city to allow the artwork to remain in place.
The statement explains that the business owner donates generously to local veteran issues and wants to beautify the community in a way that honors their service. It explains that the owner has attempted to find a friendly solution with the city but has been unsuccessful.
As is often the case, local city council disputes like this one go a long way toward pointing out the hazards that come with diminishing the sanctity of private property, as Americans have always understood it.