Mayor orders piece to be removed

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COEUR d’ALENE — There’s no Communist plot, but there’s also no excuse for the hammer and sickle art piece at Riverstone, Mayor Steve Widmyer said Saturday.

So the art’s gotta go.

“Jerry, this offensive art piece is part of a program where pieces of art are temporarily placed in various spots and are offered for sale by the artist,” Widmyer wrote in reply to a citizen’s email. “These pieces are not brought before Council for approval. I had no idea this existed until yesterday [Friday].

“We must develop guidelines for this program so offensive pieces are not put on display.”

“I am ordering that this piece be removed immediately. I apologize for this happening.”

On Saturday, The Press reported that the art piece, titled “Marker #11,” was being criticized on social media as part of a Communist plot, a small step in a larger attempt to desensitize Americans and pave the way for socialism and Communism.

“People will see conspiracy everywhere they look,” said Jennifer Drake, who leads the city’s Arts Commission and defended the piece. “But if you take the time to see what the artist intended, you’ll see a very different message. I think our job is to bring in art that evokes different feelings. I personally don’t believe it’s intentionally offensive, but I completely understand people who are uncomfortable. Some people will feel uncomfortable for very legitimate reasons.”

The volunteer Arts Commission receives 1.33% of the total cost of eligible above-ground capital improvement projects in Coeur d’Alene. That money funds art in public places, including “Marker #11.”

Press readers unloaded on the development Saturday. The article, entitled “Communist plot - or just plain art?” was by far the most-read on Comments like this were posted. (See Page 11 for letters the editor received on Saturday.)

“The sign of communism, responsible for over 100 million murders, and is diametrically opposed to our Constitution, has no business touching American soil. I’d like to know if there was one penny of tax payer money that paid for this abomination? Why isn’t this Jennifer Drake being held accountable? It is a treasonable action to put this up on American soil.” - Alice Smith

“Distasteful. Artists can be insensitive snobs in the name of ‘expression.’” - John Ely

“I believe that Agenda 2030 is bad but why is tax money being used to fund any of this ‘art’?” - Oliver Franklin

“Where are the voices of Tony Stewart and Christie Wood on this one? They would be screaming if an equally offensive symbol was put up in its place. Ms. Drake should be fined for the trash her group has left on our street.”

— Rick Jones

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