After the city has decided to revoke the permit for the launch party of his new graffiti video game, designer Marc Ecko is doing the next best thing: Suing the city. And the NYCLU is getting involved, joining Ecko in a press conference yesterday asking the mayor to reinstate the permit. Animal Magazine publisher and graffiti enthusiast Bucky Turco was at the press conference gave us his report, with including Ecko's invitation for the Mayor:

His lawyer, Daniel M. Perez stated, "Mark Ecko will be filing a lawsuit in NY Federal Court." They have enlisted the help of the NYCLU who wrote and sent a letter to the Mayor today. Arthur Eisenberg, the legal director, cites a Supreme Court Case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, that set a precedent to protect the exhibit Ecko is hosting. The Ecko people have also determined that If they can't get the permit they plan on canceling the event. Mark Ecko mentioned "I don't condone illegal graffiti, but I don't condone censorship either."

Mark then went on to explain the elaborate things they had to go to make the event even more buttoned up like getting barricades around each replica train, a security guard for each artist, tarps from Home Depot, and contracts with all the artists.

To counter Vallone and Bloomberg's assumptions that graffiti is a gateway to crime, Ecko protested that "Graffiti is a gateway to entrepreneurship," adding that many NYC museums house street art: "Take a walk through the Met and you will find graffiti."

Mark ended the conference by inviting the Mayor to come down to the event, pick up a can of spray paint and and express himself.

Of course, the Mayor's spokesman said, "No, thanks. The city isn't obligated to permit an event on a public street that encourages the vandalism of subway cars in the name of selling T-shirts and video games. The courts should uphold our ability to protect New York City's quality of life." The NYCLU says, "If an artist chooses to paint on her own canvas or wall-board or cut-out replicas of subway cars and chooses to do so in the graffiti style, this artistic expression is entitled to full protection under the First Amendment." If thousands and thousands of anti-war protesters can't get the right to protest in Central Park, it's unlikely Ecko's lawsuit will get the city reverse its decision, but it's good to keep the city on its toes. And, if you didn't read the NY Times Magazine feature on him a few weeks ago, Marc Ecko is actually a white guy from New Jersey - see his blog.

Bucky also had some great quotes from the artists that are scheduled to participate:

Lady Pink: "Bloomberg is a Jesse Helms wanna-be with his Macarthy era tactics... He's appointing himself art critic like Giuliani did. It's not illegal in any way. We are established in the museum of the City of NY."

T Kid: "It is the oppression of freedom of expression. Politicians are using graffiti as a platform to get more votes."

Cycle: "The mayor is using his power of office to influence things he doesn't understand. I don't question his business practices, he shouldn't question my art."

Smith: "I myself believe that censoring this public event is a fascist tactic, akin to book burning and serves no public good. No precedent is being set, every mayor since Lindsay has belittled the art arising from the graffiti sub culture and I'm sure the next mayor will do the same. It is politically expedient to criminalize and jail kids who are thought unworthy of being included into society.

Also Metal Man Ed, the guy who made the replicas chimed in from LA. He said he was loading the trains as we speak for transport to NYC but added: "Should it matter that the medium they choose to work with is spray paint? Should it matter that the canvas they will paint looks like a subway car? Would they have a problem if they were going to be finger painting on paper?"

Metal Man Ed also offered a link to see the replica trains. And when's the last time you've seen a subway car spraypainted (aside from that awesome 5 train)? Gothamist feels like most graffiti artists are tackling abandoned buildings and lots, versus subway cars and business owners' spaces (vandalism with hate messages are an entirely different matter).


And to follow up on Cope2's message to City Councilman Vallone, Cope 2 was arrested for threatening Vallone; we hear he turned himself in.