The city of Bloomington has now responded to an application submitted in December by Indiana University student Brian Reynolds to install a mural on Kirkwood Avenue that reads “All Lives Matter.”
In response, the City of Reynolds has advised that such a word-and-letters mural is not permitted as permanent art under the City’s newly adopted policy regarding the installation of private art on public walkways.
Based on the city’s response and the litigation behind the application, if Reynolds is eventually allowed to install his mural, it’s unlikely that it will happen on the requested date of April 3, 2023.
As a result of a court order, the city’s new policy on private art on public walkways was developed.
That order was related to a lawsuit Reynolds filed after he was denied permission to paint a mural in 2021. The court found that the city’s 2021 refusal to allow Reynolds to paint his mural likely amounted to discrimination from its standpoint and issued an injunction.
Bloomington’s policy was approved by the Public Works Board at its December 20, 2023 meeting.
Reynolds’ proposed mural is not acceptable as a permanent mural because it contains “language”, which the policy defines as “any word, letter, number, or generally accepted symbol or logo”.
In an email dated Jan. 3, 2023, city attorney Mike Rouker wrote to Reynolds, “I have attached the policy for your review. Would you like to make an alternative proposal that is compatible with the directive’s no-speech policy?”
Rouker’s response does not characterize the city’s response as a denial of the request. Instead, Rouker describes his message to Reynolds as “initial comments/questions on the proposal.”
Some other issues Rouker addresses in his message are Reynolds’ omission of some required elements for an application submitted under the new policy: the name and qualifications of the artist who will paint the mural; the type of material to be used to paint the mural; an insurance certificate; and a scaled drawing.
Regarding Reynolds’ plan for traffic diversion, Rouker questions whether the flagged option would use Indiana University police officers, certified flaggers, or someone else.