A San Francisco Superior Court judge last week upheld the San Francisco Art Commission’s decision last year to remove the controversial Civic Center Plaza statue “Early Days,” rejecting a lawsuit alleging that the commission was “motivated by prejudice against people of European heritage and culture," to unlawfully “desecrate ... a piece of fine art.”
The plaintiffs alleged the arts commission illegally wasted public resources by removing the art solely on the justification that “it was racist and painful to Native Americans and those who shared the interpretation of it being racist and that its existence represented white supremacy.”
But Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee called that reason enough, citing city policies allowing for the removal of public art following “‘significant adverse public reaction over an extended period of time (five years or more),’” she wrote.
“Accordingly the SFAC had discretion to remove the statue based on racism and the Court may not interfere with its decision.”
Tom DeCaigny, San Francisco’s cultural affairs director and a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a statement the “decision affirms the Arts Commission’s authority to remove racist imagery from the public realm."