Lunchtime protest by PleinAir artists across from City Hall

BRUCE BATES

BRUCE BATES

The City of St Augustine has an affection, it seems, for enacting decisions, resolutions, ordinances, and policy measures that place local taxpayers in jeopardy — either because of poorly prepared or overly mollifying legal counsel, more likely than not, the latter.

Poor management and an overreaching insistence to do as they damn well please, regardless the consequences to the citizens who will have to pay the bill for their hubris, Historic City News finds St Augustine back in court defending the constitutionality of its actions to commandeer the rights of the city’s artists.

“As you may know, our current ordinances are the subject of a first amendment lawsuit so I am unable to comment on the specifics of that pending case,” Mayor Nancy Shaver told local Historic City News reporters last week. “That said, I have publicly stated many times, prior to the lawsuit, that I support livelier streets in our City.”

Monday, December 21, several artists from all over the State of Florida will be gathering in St. Augustine to rally in support of our local PleinAir artists.

“Currently there is a $500 fine and 60-days in jail for sketching, drawing or painting in several areas downtown and in our public parks,” said Bruce Kevin Bates, one of the artists back in federal court fighting against what he feels are unconstitutional laws. “Even coloring in a coloring book with a crayon is currently a criminal offense.”

The organizers of this protest will be meeting with supporters in front of the King Street entrance to Flagler College; across the street from City Hall and the Lightner Museum. The protest will begin Monday morning at 11:45 a.m.

There have been protests, slogans, posters, bumper stickers, and other outward signs of frustration by local artists and their supporters since the last time they won their case against the City in federal court. We asked Mayor Shaver if she thought management was entrenched in its position against the artists or if she felt there could be any benefit served by the protestors.

“I brought the subject up for discussion and review close to a year ago,” Shaver replied. “Sadly none of my fellow commission members were supportive. Perhaps 2016 will bring a change.”

If you agree that creating art in public should not be a criminal offense, Bates asked that you join them and demonstrate your unity for the St. Augustine PleinAir Artists. He said he hopes the protest raises awareness that St. Augustine’s anti-artist laws have criminalized PleinAir painting, sketching and drawing downtown, and in our public parks; then, he wants to see the City reverse its direction.

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