Artists file lawsuit against city of Atlanta over murals

- A group of artists have drawn a legal line in the sand, filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta over some of their artwork.

One of those artists is Fabian Williams.

When it comes to his art, murals which include personal observations and civil rights era figures like James Baldwin in East Atlanta and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Williams, believes it's a creative process without bounds.

"Your lawsuit seeks what when it comes to the art? Really the freedom to create the pieces to create without having to go through the city," said Fabian Williams, known as Fabian 'Occasional Superstar' Williams.

He said he and several other artists  filed a federal lawsuit to ease city hall red tape when placing art on private property where it can be seen by the public.

The suit claims the city hall approach violates the constitutional rights of the artists.

" I don't think it's the city government's place to tell me what to put up on the wall especially if I've cleared it with the business owner. That seems that's like a violation of my first amendment rights," said Williams.

The lawsuit says artists must go through three government agencies and then get city council  approval before placing art in private spaces seen by the public.

The Mayor's Office told Fox 5 News since they haven't been served with a lawsuit they had no comment.

Olivia Rios is opening the Cold Mountain Artist Collaborative at the former Madison Theater in East Atlanta where William's work adorns the front.

She believes the bureaucracy doesn't help anyone.

" I think they're doing themselves a big dis-service they should maybe put in a plan together and work with the artists to actually set up some guidelines if that's what they're concerned about," said Rios.

The ordinance calls for a fine of upwards of a thousand dollars and potential jail time if an artist does not comply..

Williams said he and the other artists received an email from the city asking them to comply or potentially have their artwork  removed.

" I don't think they want to remove anything. I know the city of Atlanta loves the public art. We don't really want any beef. We just want to do what we do," said Williams.

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