Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Would-Be Councilwoman Squawks About Bird Hex

(CN) - The losing candidate of the Democratic primary for a New York City Council seat claims in court that the three-term incumbent placed a Caribbean curse on her in the form of a public art project on the facade of her apartment.

Gwen Goodwin sued Melissa Mark-Viverito and Eastside Managers' Associates in New York County Supreme Court.

Mark-Viverito trounced Goodwin in the Sept. 10 primary elections where they were vying for District 8 of New York City Council, representing the neighborhood of East Harlem.

A little more than a week before the primary, Mark-Viverito attended a ceremony unveiling a mural on the eastern wall of a building at 152 East 100th Street. Goodwin has lived at that address for decades.

The mural was part of Los Muros Hablan (The Walls Speak), a project of New York City's El Museo del Barrio and the San Juan-based cultural center El Repuesto.

Goodwin says in her complaint that "the mural depicted a decapitated and wooden-sword-stabbed bird of prey, on information and belief, and according to neighbors of Puerto Rican and other backgrounds, in the Caribbean culture, this constituted a curse and a death threat, as a swastika or a noose would symbolize typically to many Jews or African Americans."

The bird's head "abutted the bottom and north side of the east window" of Goodwin's apartment, the complaint states.

Puerto Rican artist Don Rimx, who conceived of the mural, interpreted his work far differently on his Tumblr page.

"Representing the Street of the Beautiful People who work to support their families and are far away from their countries by things in life," Rimx wrote on his website in Spanish. "And they are going to fly like migratory birds to follow Building their Dreams of giving to theirs that which they never had."

Rimx's post linked to a YouTube video of the painting of the mural to a soundtrack.

Goodwin claims the mural "disrupted" and "distracted" her campaign efforts, and alleges that Mark-Viverito asked the artist to remove her campaign banner from her window to complete the painting.

This banner never has been returned, Goodwin says.

"The resulting loss of energy from the campaign may even have affected the outcome of the Democratic Primary and consequently the contributed to the election of defendant [Melissa Mark-Viverito] to the City Council in Council District 8," the complaint states.

Mark-Viverito's spokesman Eric Koch told the New York Post that the allegations were "desperate and ridiculous" and a "waste of the court's precious time."

"It's sad but expected that Melissa's opponents are resorting to these kind of tactics," he told the tabloid.

Goodwin alleges seven causes of action, including conspiracy, emotional distress, tortious interference, wrongful use of campaign funds, and larceny.

She wants $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.