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Maine Lawmakers Vote to Curb Free Speech by Banning Projection of Political Messages onto State House

"It's free speech...It's a public space, paid for with tax dollars. It's our State House."

A political action group projected the message "Property of the NRA" onto the Maine State House in Augusta in March after legislators failed to show any sign of passing stricter gun control laws following the Parkland, Florida shooting. (Photo: @LumenARRT/Twitter)

An increasingly common form of non-violent protest is under threat this week after state legislators in Maine voted to bar demonstrators and groups from projecting political messages onto the State House in Augusta.

As the Portland Press Herald reported, at the request of the Maine State Capitol Police, a bipartisan committee of the state's top lawmakers voted to prohibit such projections in the interest of maintaining the State House as a "neutral institution of democracy." The measure passed with a vote of 6-0.

Critics including independent congressional candidate Tiffany Bond immediately slammed the decision, noting that the State House is a taxpayer-funded building.

The group LumenARRT! is among the organizations that have projected messages onto the building in recent years. In March, weeks after the Parkland, Florida shooting which energized millions across the country to demand stricter state and federal gun control laws, the group projected the words "Property of the NRA" onto the public building.

The protest was in response to years of legislative inaction in Maine, which has some of the country's least restrictive gun laws.

"It's free speech; you should be able to say what you want," Anita Clearfield of LumenARRT! told the Press Herald. "It's a public space, paid for with tax dollars. It's our State House."

Projected political messages have become popular among advocacy groups since President Donald Trump took office. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has been the site of projected messages regarding Trump's alleged history of sexual assault and his violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause. Recently, visual artist Robin Bell also projected the word "KavaNOPE" onto the U.S. Supreme Court to protest Trump's nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

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