Red Wing’s Barn Bluff to be a no-graffiti zone

In southeastern Minnesota, the limits on free speech will soon be seen — or not seen, as the case may be — on Red Wing’s Barn Bluff, the western face of which has served for decades as a giant billboard for people who had something to say even though there’s a graffiti ordinance in the city.

Those days are over.

The Red Wing City Council has voted to start enforcing the ordinance.

This became an issue in 2016 when Prince died and someone painted a tribute to him. A resident complained, the city painted over the symbol, and resident Joe Gibart repainted it.

The city later commissioned a survey of residents about the bluff, finding 49 percent said no painting of the bluff should be allowed, 18 percent saying it should be allowed with restrictions (that invites a constitutional challenge), and 23 percent saying it should be allowed, period.

The Heritage Preservation Commission backed the ban, saying the land is sacred to the Dakota people, the land deed calls for no defacing of property, current city law bans graffiti, and the bluff should remain as natural as possible.

Supporters of the graffiti suggest they’ll petition the city to put the question on a ballot for residents to decide.

In the meantime, the new policy goes into effect in November.

If the large American flag, which is currently painted on the bluff, is still there then, it’ll be painted over.

  • >>the land is sacred to the Dakota people, the land deed calls for no defacing of property<<

    This should be the end of any controversy.

    Strip ALL the paint off and get it back to a "natural" state.

    • jon

      Should be, but won’t be.

      And in principle I guess that’s a good thing… in practice people need to learn to take the hint that freedom of speech comes with a responsibility to know when to move on.

  • MrE85

    Good luck with that, Red Wing.

    I think the taggers are just going to see this as a dare.

    • John O.

      More like a “double-dog-dare.”

  • Jeffrey

    I grew up near Red Wing and I remember that the High School graduating class would always paint the year on the bluff. I haven’t been in Red Wing for a long time, so I don’t know if that is still being done.