A Massachusetts Senate candidate filed a federal lawsuit Sunday after city officials told him to take down signs calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren a “fake Indian.”
The candidate, Shiva Ayyadurai, accused the city of free speech violations after being told to take down the signs showing Warren in a Native American headdress with the words “Only a REAL INDIAN Can Defeat the Fake Indian,” emblazoned on them, the Washington Times reported.
Warren has previously claimed Native American heritage in her past. She has claimed Cherokee ancestry, citing family lore, while being a professor at Harvard Law School.
President Trump has referred to Warren as “Pocahontas” on several occasions.
The two signs have been seen on Ayyadurais’ campaign bus since March 17 in a parking lot in front of an office building owned by Ayyadurai.
Cambridge building inspector Branden Vigneault told the Washington Times he received a number of complaints about the signs. Vigneault added that an inspection of the signs determined that they were posted “without approvals and permits,” and violated the city zoning ordinance.
If the signs are not removed, Ayyudarai faces fines up to $300 dollars per day and potential legal action, according to Vigneault.
Ayyudarai claims the signs are not subject to the city’s building code because they are placed on a bus and not on a building. He also claims that he has displayed other messages similarly for more than a year but has never had complaints from the city.
“They didn’t say anything when we had the first sign,” he said. “It was only when we put, ‘Only a real Indian can defeat the fake Indian,’ so it’s clearly trying to censor speech.”
“We will not remove the slogan from our bus,”Ayyadurai told the Washington Times. “We will defend the First Amendment, and we will fight this egregious attack on the First Amendment, at any cost.”