Restraining order hopes to force LePage to replace mural

The first three panels of the labor mural Gov. Paul LePage had removed from the Department of Labor headquarters.
Judy Taylor fine arts | Judy Taylor fine arts
The first three panels of the labor mural Gov. Paul LePage had removed from the Department of Labor headquarters.
Posted April 08, 2011, at 2:49 p.m.
Last modified April 08, 2011, at 4:12 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Attorneys hoping to restore a labor themed mural to a state office building on Friday filed a request for a temporary restraining order designed to force Gov. Paul LePage to return the artwork to its original place in the Department of Labor.

The plaintiffs also ask the U.S. District Court to order LePage and the other defendants to reveal the location of the mural that was removed from the Maine Department of Labor’s lobby on March 26, and to ensure the mural is in good condition and is protected, according to a release from the attorneys involved in the case.

The original complaint, filed last week, alleges that the governor’s removal of the mural denied plaintiffs their First Amendment right to view the mural.

The mural, by Maine artist Judy Taylor, was commissioned in 2007 by the administration of Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat, and mounted in the state building the next year. Among the scenes it depicts are a 1986 paper mill strike; the fictional World War II icon Rosie the Riveter at work in a shipyard; and Frances Perkins, an early 20th century U.S. labor secretary whose parents were from Maine.

LePage ordered the mural removed last month, contending it was one-sided in favor of labor interests and did not fit with his pro-business platform.  It’s prominent location in the Department of Labor offices was unwelcoming to business, the administration said.

The plaintiffs in the federal case are Don Berry, training director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 567, of Sumner; John Newton, an industrial hygienist, of Portland; and three Maine artists: Robert Shetterly of Brooksville, Natasha Mayers of Whitefield and Joan Braun of Weld. The sixth plaintiff is attorney Jonathan Beal of Portland, who requested a public hearing before the removal of the mural.

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