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Artist Allowed to Challenge Legality of Arrest for Mural

May 27, 2000

WESTWOOD — Artist Mike McNeilly won an early Memorial Day victory Friday as authorities agreed to let him challenge the legality of his arrest before he is put on trial for painting a 120-foot mural of the Statue of Liberty overlooking veterans' graves at Los Angeles National Cemetery without a permit.

The Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court will now consider a writ that seeks to prohibit McNeilly's prosecution by the Los Angeles city attorney's office on the grounds that his misdemeanor arrest violated his constitutional right to free speech.

McNeilly, 46, was caught painting Lady Liberty on the side of a Wilshire Boulevard high-rise 15 months ago. He told arresting officers and city inspectors he didn't bother to apply for a mural permit because he felt Westwood-area City Councilman Mike Feuer would block it.

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