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Councilman Dennis Zine Battles Free Speech Tries to Block Aaron Brothers Art Store Classes

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by copythat

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In The News

A councilman doesn't seem to believe in the First Amendment. Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine is battling a back-to-school campaign by retail art store Aaron Brothers--claiming he'll do anything to stop the campaign and class. There seems to be some misrepresentation by Zine, who insinuates that kit includes paint -- not its actual contents of markers and paper pads. It all creates a battle over little things like freedom of speech and expression.
It's an Aaron Brothers campaign called "Artrageous," slated to begin at L.A.-area retail stores in September 2011 in Hollywood, California, in San Diego, California, in Daly City, California, and in Austin, Texas -- to celebrate kids headed back to school, and encourage the world of art. The art stores are giving out what it's dubbed free "graffiti starter kits" to participants in the classes. 
Zine's worried about the class slated specifically for Hollywood, California. The other three Aaron Brothers classes to take place in San Diego, Daly City and Austin haven't incurred in local city government backlash.
Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine says no, they're not.
The art store isn't encouraging kids to spray-paint walls. The Aaron Brothers "graffiti starter kits" for back-to-school kids include markers and paper. Los Angeles city council members claim it's an outrageous act that promotes vandalism as art. And Councilman Dennis Zine claims he'll do anything to stop the Aaron Brothers art store promotion -- introducing a resolution in late August, up for vote in early September, to stop the art store from hosting the events. Zine's claiming kids may be tempted to use the tools for illegal reasons. That might be a bit difficult to use those small markers as 'tools' for illegal reasons -- particularly in the methods Zine is describing.
"What they're [Aaron Brothers art stores] doing is promoting tagging, graffiti and trying to call it art," Councilman Zine stated to KTLA. "It's not art when your putting a mark on people's property and public property." Of course there is the on-going debate which considers graffiti an art form -- so Dennis Zine isn't exactly correct on that count. Last checked, Dennis Zine is neither an artist -- nor fit to define what is or isn't art. What Zine may, more accurately, be stating is that he doesn't want that 'art form' in the area he oversees. The problem is, there's that little thing called free speech, which includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.
Of course we have laws in place, pertaining to where such messages cannot legally occur. And that's something for law enforcement to answer. But trying to bar communication or art in any form is not the realm for a councilman to enter, in efforts to pre-empt in accordance with his own whims or fears of what could occur.
Aaron Brothers has released its response, stating the art store says its program is "designed to celebrate and encourage artistic expression of artists" and the company does not "support or encourage vandalism of public or private property in any form."
But the real issue is Dennis Zine's efforts to push city government into a realm where it has no legal right. While Zine claims kids may be tempted to use 'tools' for illegal reasons. The art store isn't passing out cans of spray paint or encouraging illegal activity: Aaron Brothers is giving out Sharpies and pads of paper, only to kids whom actually attend its class, along with a celebrity artist for kids to meet.
It seems Dennis Zine is more interested in blocking use or idea of the term 'graffiti'. His office isn't happy about art books Aaron Brothers also carries on the subject. As to the 'Artrageous' event, Zine claims: "All this does is send out the wrong message…that we're going to teach you how to tag the community. They're not gonna take this starter kit home and paint their bedroom or paint the front of their house. They're gonna come out and do the community like they do here."
That's interesting, since it's probably a long-shot that cops are going to discover either gang members or reputed vandals at the art store classes. But as to Zine's claim that "They're not gonna take this starter kit home and paint their bedroom or paint the front of their house. They're gonna come out and do the community like they do here," it seems Zine is either a little confused or a bit uneducated as to those kits he's screaming about: The kits include paper and markers -- so kids aren't going to "take this starter kit home and paint their bedroom", "paint the front of their house," or "come out and do the community.": Those Aaron Brothers kits don't include spray paint at all. By the way, Mr. Zine, the retail art store isn't the source for taggers needing to garner some cans of paint. Check the local Home Depot.
Zine claims "Artrageous" should be stopped before the tools of this crime are handed out for free -- but the councilman seems very confused about what those 'tools' are, despite the fact that some fact-checking at the Aaron Brothers website shows what's in the kit. Maybe Zine and the L.A. city council will have time to brush up on the Aaron Brothers free graffiti kit with markers and paper, not paint, before its council vote on September 7, three days before the scheduled Hollywood event on September 10 at Aaron Brothers. Considering constitutional freedoms may be a good idea as well -- particularly the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of speech from government interference -- before the city finds itself with a lawsuit on its hands.


Hollywood, CA
United States
34° 5' 53.988" N, 118° 19' 32.988" W
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