City of Indio v. Arroyo
Artist: Tony Flores
Date of Action: April 3, 1981
Region: North America
Location: Indio, California
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: City of Indio
Description of Artwork: A mural that, in the words of Cecilia Arroyo, "depicts aspects of our ethnic Mexican heritage. Many of the scenes depicted on the mural reflect aspects of the Aztec Indian contribution to our heritage. Some of the scenes portray the geography, indigenous plants, and archaeology of Mexico. A Part of the mural depicts social advancements of the Mexican people in contemporary society as well as reflections upon a colonial period of Mexican history, The mural also depicts today's youth viewing the future."
The Incident: Chris and Cecilia Arroyo operate a small convenience store in Indio. The Arroyos had a friend, artist Tony Flores, paint a mural on the side of their building. On April 3, 1981 the Arroyos received a notice from Indio Planning Director W.M. Northrup demanding that they remove the mural. According to city ordinance, the mural could be classified as a sign, and thus, was too large to remain on the exterior wall of the business.
Results of Incident: The Arroyos appealed to the city council, but the council voted to deny the variance. The mural was ordered to be removed by the planning director. The superior court held that the city's ordinances--those clarifying what exactly constitutes a "sign"-- were neither "too broad" nor "uncertain". The city contends that the Arroyos are in no position to assert First Amendment right violations, as there's supposedly no "ideological" investment in maintaining the mural.