Artist Allowed to Compete at Big Fresno Fair

In response to CIR’s recently filed suit on behalf of artist Timothy Desmond, the state of California reversed course and agreed to let Desmond display his civil war painting at the 2016 Big Fresno Fair, which opens on October 5th.  State officials previously barred Desmond from displaying his work because it contained a historically accurate depiction of the Confederate Battle Flag.  Officials contended a 2014 state law barred display of the Confederate Flag on state property by any individual.

As a result of the State’s about-face, Desmond agreed to withdraw his motion for a preliminary injunction, which had asked federal Judge Dale A. Drozd to order state officials to allow Desmond the opportunity to display his work.  Desmond’s lawsuit, which asks the court to strike down the California statute as violating the First Amendment, will continue.

“This is a victory for the First Amendment and a victory for the citizens of California,” CIR President Terry Pell said of California’s agreement to let Desmond participate. CIR will continue to seek assurances that California will not use the law to stifle free speech again in the future.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times called the flag ban “absurd.” An earlier story by the Fresno Bee highlighted the First Amendment problems with the state’s censorship.