New York must allow fashion designer Marc Ecko to hold a block party featuring graffiti artists spraying murals of subway cars, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan ordered the city to reinstate a permit it revoked earlier this month for the party, scheduled for Wednesday. The judge rejected the city's argument that the event would encourage criminal vandalism.
"The denial of the permit on the stated grounds that the demonstration will 'incite' others to actually paint graffiti on subway cars is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment and cannot stand," Rakoff ruled.
City law department spokeswoman Kate Ahlers said the city was considering whether to appeal.
Ecko earlier withdrew plans to use the event to promote the planned September release of the Atari video game "Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure," where players control a graffiti artist who paints his "tag" around a fictional city. Ecko sued the city after the permit, originally issued July 18, was withdrawn last week.
"It was heavy-handed censorship by the mayor in violation of the Constitution," Dan Perez, Ecko's attorney from the New York law firm Kuby & Perez, said after the ruling. "It's a victory for the First Amendment."
Paula Van Meter, a lawyer for the city, said during oral arguments that the event would "celebrate defacement of city property and show how it's done," which "would quite likely incite" the illegal painting of graffiti on subway cars.