The furor sparked by Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal’s controversial video game exhibit has seemingly taken on a life of its own.
In the latest news, officials of the New York Civil Liberties Union said that the organization may file suit against the city of Troy. As GamePolitics reported yesterday, city officials used local building codes to shut down Bilal’s exhibit at a local studio. Executive Director Melanie Trimble of the Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union told the Schenectady Daily Gazette:
The city is suppressing free speech, and they will face consequences. You cannot prevent people from assembling. It is an infringement of their First Amendment rights.
At the heart of the issue is the role of political figure Bob Mirch (left), a Republican with deep political connections in local and state politics. As reported by the Daily Gazette:
Mirch is head of [Troy’s] Department of Public Works, works for [Republican] state Sen. Joseph Bruno as a constituent liaison and is Republican majority leader on the Rensselaer County Legislature.
Steve Pierce, director of the Sanctuary for Independent Media, which was shut down by Troy less than 24 hours after Bilal’s exhibit opened, said:
We have [Mirch] on video saying, ‘I am the director of public works, and I am organizing this protest.’ The next day they shut us down. It is an issue of selective enforcement.