A self-described Piney Flats “street preacher” is among three plaintiffs to file a federal lawsuit last week against Washington, D.C.’s mayor regarding Black Lives Matter signage.
The lawsuit claims Mayor Muriel Bowser’s action to display Black Lives Matter signage along a two-block area of 16th Street and rename the area Black Lives Matter Plaza is a violation of the First Amendment.
The action, filed June 10 in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks a permanent injunction to remove all Black Lives Matter signage and the court to order the city to display alternative banners.
Plaintiffs include Rich Penkoski, founder of Warriors for Christ; Tex Christopher of Special Forces for Liberty; and attorney Chris Sevier of Nashville. All list the same Nashville address.
Penkoski resides in Piney Flats. He made local headlines last November for criticizing the Sullivan County Board of Education after Mary Hughes Elementary distributed flyers promoting free birth control to students as young as age 7.
The lawsuit claims the mayor’s action violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution by making the organization, which it terms a cult, the “favored religion of the city and nation” and those who “disagree with their gospel narrative is a second class citizen.”
The Warriors For Christ website describes itself as a “pre-denominational ministry” of Christians “who seeks to base all of his or her beliefs and practices upon the New Testament.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies Warriors for Christ as a hate group for its stance against the LGBTQ movement.
The lawsuit claims residential addresses in the District of Columbia for Penkoski, Christopher and Sevier were “deleted for safety reasons.”
Christopher lists “resident of Washington, D.C.,” on his Facebook page.
Sevier was placed on “disability inactive status” in December 2011 by the Tennessee Supreme Court, meaning he can’t practice law until the court reinstates him. As of Friday, Sevier was still listed as disability inactive, according to the court Board of Professional Responsibility website.