The never-ending saga of the Manhattan Avenue Mural controversy continues. We recently reported that the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has written to the Town Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, New York, regarding its recent call to remove the depiction of Minister Louis Farrakhan, and potentially other “controversial” figures, from a new town-commissioned mural overseen by the artist known as Kindo Art, dated Wednesday, September 14th.
Now on Monday, September 19th the Town of Greenburgh Office of the Town Attorney sent a certified letter, ‘Notice Of Breach of Agreement And Demand For Immediate Remediation to Kindo Art, The letter says that Town contends that Kindo Art has breached the agreement for failure to properly complete the work as commission, And that the mural currently depicts several individuals and images that were never approved.
The letter goes on to say the Town demands the removal of the 20 + images that were not on the approved sketch by Monday, September 26th at no additional cost to the town. The letter was signed by Joseph A. Danko, Interim Town Attorney. (you can view the letter in its entirety below.
Now while I do not pretend to be an expert on Greenburgh Town Government and how it does business, and the fact every municipality is different, but I have seen plenty of letters like this and after reading this I’m left with more questions than answers. In addition to questioning the validity of the letter all together.
So first this letter has no other names on it either as co-signers or cc’d. I found that odd because the interim town attorney says ‘The Town’ contends… does that mean the entire Town Council voted or even agreed to this letter and what it says. If so why aren’t their names listed at the bottom of the letter. If the council didn’t vote or agree to this, who gave the interim town attorney the authority to send this letter speaking for The Town of Greenburgh? Was this a tactic for Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, a way of attempting to intimidate the artists? I would like to hear from the Town Council because this letter represents them and Supervisor Paul Feiner.
So how do things work in Greenburgh, does the interim town attorney, have the authority to make such demands unilaterally? Is this just another attempt for Paul Feiner to get what he wants because of his personal issues with Min. Farrakhan? Why aren’t the members of the BLM Manhattan Avenue Subcommittee cc’d on this letter since they too are mentioned in the letter.
Moving forward the letter demands the removal of 20 plus images, but does not identify what these 20 plus something images. I’ve talked to several of the people involved, the town of Greenburgh allegedly received complaints of Min. Farrakhan and a few other images. So how is the artist to comply (if that’s even if that was an option) how can the artist meet such a demand by Monday, if he hasn’t been told who the 20 plus images are. Is he supposed to guess? This part alone makes me question the validity of this letter. What kind of attorney does not spell out everything in a written certified letter in a breach of contract situation?
The letter say that Kindo Art has breached the agreement for failure to properly complete the work as commission. How can he be in breach of the agreement for not completing the work commissioned if the town will not relocate the platform to the other side of the street for the artist to complete the project? How can they work on the second wall, which is part of the work commissioned that he is being accused of not completing.
Lastly I see a lot of white people dictating how the ‘Black experience in America since 1619’ should be depicted. How can they since they do not know and truly understand what Blacks in America have experience. With a major effort nationally to whitewash Black History in America and the banning any book that truly depicts the Black Experience in America that makes white students feel uncomfortable. Its hard not to see how this effort of censoring the mural is any different.
I always said this was bigger than Paul Feiner’s high documented hatred for Min. Farrakhan. The demand for the artist to remove 20 plus images – and yes this number seems to grow as times keeps on slipping into the future – this demand for the artist to cave into this form on censorship at their own cost is slowly following the narrative that is dividing the county. How is this any different from the White Nationalists that want to make America Great Again, i.e., when white men ran this country and no one else had rights.
I said in an editorial, regardless of how we got here, regardless of who’s idea is was to paint Min. Farrakhan, the removal of his image would be a slippery slope. Now that Black Westchester has obtain this letter from the interim Town Attorney that alleges that ‘The Town’ demands the removal of 20 plus images, it only re-enforces what I said in earlier editorials. Again the fact this letter doesn’t include the Town Supervisor, members of the Town Council and the BLM Manhattan Avenue Mural Subcommittee is a little suspicious to say the least. Everyone should question the town of Greenburgh government, if they voted for, are in agreement and co-sign this letter. Or this a cheap attempt to get the artist to remove these 20 plus UNNAMED images so Paul Feiner and the council do not have to go to court to see how a judge would rule?
As with every other editorial I write to get to the heart of this matter, I am left with more questions than answers. What do the residents watching their community become divided with every action while the world watches – what do they think?
As promised in the beginning we will stay on top of this until the end, no matter how it plays out! Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story. And if you have any questions I did not think of, please feel free to leave them and any feedback you may have in the comment section below, we want to hear from all of you.
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.
that my son sees the painting as a way of to honor god that the way people treat people will see moves 365 days is almost gone how are you going to move the work of god that things have been worked already
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