Performing Arts Center managers have brushed off Save Anchorage’s request to hang a banner on the side of the PAC’s downtown building. No matter that a Black Lives Matter banner was hanging there with city approval for weeks.
Jamie Allard, Assembly member for the Eagle River area, tells Must Read Alaska that PAC management told her current banner policy – still in effect, by the way – is being revisited after backlash over the Black Lives Matter placards. The city’s ombudsman suggested the signage may have turned the building’s walls into a “public forum” uncontrolled by the city.
Current Performing Arts Center banner policy is being revised to allow only PAC events to be advertised on any banners placed on the city-owned building, and no banners that create a “public forum” will be allowed, she says PAC management told her.
The truth is, nobody should be allowed to hang political signs of any stripe on a public edifice, with or without municipal approval. What about “public property” is so hard to understand?
As we have said before: “As a reminder to the Berkowitz administration, roads and public edifices are public property paid for by taxpayers. Having any private group’s name, and its political agenda, emblazoned on public streets or buildings, is nothing less than a usurpation of public property for private purposes. Not to mention an endorsement by government.”
As whatever policy that allowed the BLM placards to be hoisted onto the PAC with – unbelievably – the city’s help remains unchanged, it seems only fair that Save Anchorage get the same treatment, despite Mayor Ethan Berkowitz calling it an “astroturf” group.
It is not for government to play favorites, to use its power to promote groups it supports, even allowing use of public property to do so, but a cynic might think this episode smacks of government doing just that.