A call to prevent discriminatory signs from the Comic Cowboys - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

A call to prevent discriminatory signs from the Comic Cowboys


New developments in the controversy over the Mardi Gras parading group, the Comic Cowboys.

The group took fire after last year's parade over messages many people felt crossed the line. 

Tuesday, at the Mobile City Council meeting, a group called for change.

Members of a group called "Indivisible" suggested the city adopt a policy that would not allow groups that discriminate against others to get public money, in the way of police protection and barricades.

Members of "Indivisible" called on the city council to prevent organizations like the Comic Cowboys from displaying offensive and derogatory signs based on race and gender.

David Smith said, "We are petitioning the City of Mobile to work with us and develop a non discriminatory policy for all Mardi Gras and other parading organizations." 

Members in particular cited signs they saw during last year Comic Cowboys parade.

Julie West with Indivisible said, "I think the one was about Black Lives Matter: they know what they want, but they got a TV.  It shows an African American running away with a TV. The one that talks about Jeff Sessions and the KKK ."

David Smith said cities like Mobile have a moral and, arguably, legal responsibility to monitor what is allowed in public space and take action, but he did not spell out what type of action.  

When asked if he was not trying to get a permit pulled, Smith said, "I'll leave that up to the leaders. That's their job to make decisions."

Smith and other group members suggested passing an ordinance they say is similar to one in New Orleans which says no organization can receive public money if it's discriminatory. 

City Council member Fred Richardson said this is something Mobile should look at. 

He said, "New Orleans is saying that you can do what you want to do but you're not going to take our funds and, if you want to be private go on out there and be private.  Put on your grown man pants and be private.  But don't come down here begging us and then you get out in the street and then talk about us like a dog." 

But Richardson admitted the Comic Cowboys have a legal right to put what they want on their signs.

He said, "Freedom of speech, First Amendment of the United States Constitution."

Council Vice President Levon Manzie suggested the city council attorney meet with members of Indivisible to discuss the idea further. 

Supporters of the Comic Cowboys have long said this is a free speech issue.

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