NEW YORK – The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is deeply concerned by the threatened censorship of a mural that the town of Greenburgh, New York, commissioned from the artist known as Kindo Art. The alteration of the mural without the artist’s permission would be a violation of his First Amendment rights as well as those of the residents of the town, who would be deprived of the opportunity to view the original. NCAC strongly urges town officials to submit this dispute to mediation as prescribed in its contract with Kindo Art.
In June, the Town commissioned Kindo Art to design and lead the creation of a Black history mural on two walls of an underpass beneath an interstate highway built in the 1960s that partially destroyed a historic Black neighborhood. The agreement states that the artist must adhere to content-neutral restrictions imposed by the New York State Department of Transportation but does not require the Town’s approval of all mural imagery.
In the weeks following the successful completion of Wall #1 of the mural, controversy emerged over its depiction of Minister Louis Farrakhan, whose portrait appears with those of more than 50 other influential Black leaders. The Greenburgh Town Supervisor publicly called for its erasure. Soon after, the Town alleged that Kindo Art breached the original agreement and, on September 19th, demanded the removal of more than 20 additional unspecified images from the more than 50 that are depicted, which the Town claims were “unauthorized.” Kindo Art’s legal team denied the Town’s allegations on September 21st, said the Town itself was in breach for having stopped the project, and rather than remove the work itself, which Town officials were threatening to do, Kindo Art’s legal team urged the Town instead to comply with the requirement in the contract that all disputes, including those related to the artwork, be submitted to mediation before a neutral third party.
The Town of Greenburgh selected Kindo Art for this project because of his creative vision and artistic style, which were vetted during months of conversation and portfolio review. Any alteration to the mural without Kindo Art’s permission would be both arbitrary and unjust. In these circumstances, the Town must submit this dispute to mediation under the terms of the contract.
About National Coalition Against Censorship
Since its inception in 1974, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has functioned as a first responder in protecting freedom of expression, a fundamental human right and a keystone of democracy. Representing 59 trusted education, publishing, and arts organizations, NCAC encourages and facilitates dialogue between diverse voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced.