- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

D.C. Statehood Green Party wants its symbol the sunflower planted around Washington in the form of statues.

On March 29, the political organization filed a lawsuit against the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for not including the sunflower in its Party Animals project, says Michael Piacsek, a party member.

The commission plans to place about 200 decorated elephant and donkey figures the symbols of this country's two main political parties throughout Washington beginning April 23. Because the commission uses taxpayer money for its programs, Mr. Piacsek says it should include the symbols of other political parties, such as the Green Party's sunflower, in the project.

Otherwise, Mr. Piacsek says, the commission should have chosen nonpolitical subjects for its project, such as pandas or eagles.

"We consider this unconstitutional," Mr. Piacsek says. "As a taxpayer, I object to funding [a project involving] two parties which I don't belong to when they won't include the party that I do belong to. We're a major party in the District of Columbia. We should be included if they're going to insist on using donkeys and elephants."

The hearing for a preliminary injunction in the case will take place Friday before a U.S. District judge, Mr. Piacsek says. If the judge grants the preliminary injunction, the commission will not be able to proceed with the Party Animal project on schedule.

Tony Gittens, executive director of the commission, says the Party Animals project is purely artistic, not political. The organization has no intention of changing its original plans.

"We're doing it in order to bring fun and whimsy to the city and to attract tourists to the city," Mr. Gittens says. "We're trying to give artists an opportunity to express themselves and their creativity. We are planning to go forward with the project."

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