Shiva Ayyadurai, who is now running as an independent against Elizabeth Warren, filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Cambridge this week, alleging it is harassing him over his campaign bus now that it features the "resonating campaign slogan" of "Only A Real Indian Can Defeat The Fake Indian."
At issue is Ayyadurai parking the bus and its slogan in the parking lot of his Concord Avenue campaign headquarters.
Ayyadurai, who claims he invented e-mail as a 14-year-old - which he details in his complaint filed in US District Court in Boston - charges Cambridge is threatening him with $300-a-day building-code fines, in violation of his First Amendment rights . He alleges he'd been parking the bus, with other slogans emblazoned on it, for more than a year with no complaints and that the city only went after him after he added the anti-Warren banner to the bus in March.
On April 4, 2018, Branden Vigneault, a City of Cambridge building inspector telephoned campaign volunteer Michael Mosca. Mr. Vigneault informed Mr. Mosca that the City had received a number of anonymous complaints about the bus, and instructed Mr. Mosca that the bus was in violation of city codes and the banner must be removed.
Mr. Mosca explained to the inspector that the banner was on the bus, not on the building, and questioned how the City's building ordinances could have jurisdiction over a message on a moving vehicle. He also said that the banner contained political speech and, as such, was protected by the First Amendment.
The next day, Mr. Mosca and Dr. Ayyadurai received an emailed letter from Mr. Vigneault.
The letter stated that the City had inspected the property and determined that the premises were in violation of Article 7, Section 7.10 of the City of Cambridge Zoning Ordinance because there were signs displayed without approvals and permits from the Inspectional Services Department. If the signs were not removed, the letter warned, the City could Pursue legal action and levy fines of up to $300 a day.
As of the time of filing this Complaint, the only signs at the address were the banners on the campaign bus parked in the parking lot. There was and is no signage on the outside of building.
Ayyadurai's complaint seeks to have a judge order the city to knock it off, let him park in his bus and its banner in the parking lot - and to pay him attorney's fees and other costs.