City's Press Release on Raney Street Headwall Mural
May 21, 2020
The City does not have any artistic objection to the design or content of the mural. Nor does it take issue with the characterization of the Cross at the Crossroads as a symbol of the city and a strong representation of our town and culture. Most importantly, we agree that it represents private speech.
The City expressly recognizes that if the headwall was to be characterized as a public forum that a City official could not censor the content of any private messages depicted in that space based on the official’s personal political or religious views.
It is for precisely the foregoing reason that the City has chosen not to designate the headwall of the Raney Street Overpass as a public forum. Nor does the City find that permission was granted for the headwall to be used for private expression.
In light of the information described above, the City finds that the mural represents a private donation of art to the City on property which is not designated as a public forum, and therefore may exercise discretion whether to accept the donation in whole or in part.
While each City official might find the mural to be an attractive and accurate representation of the City, the Council wants to emphasize that the City of Effingham is an inclusive and welcoming City where broad and diverse viewpoints are accepted and respected. The last thing the City Council wants is for any members of our community to feel excluded or treated as second-class citizens because they hold a minority belief. It is in service to these principles that the City Council has altered the mural accordingly.