ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – The City of St. Louis is defending its policy of auditioning street performers and charging them a 100 dollar a year fee for a permit.
St. Louis Director of the Streets Department Todd Waelterman says the system is fair.
“My guy that’s doing these interviews is a band guy, and he’s passionate about helping these people displays themselves,” says Waelterman. “He actually sits down with them and helps them and guides them.”
Waelterman says no auditioners have been denied a permit this year. And last year, he says they turned down a man who wanted to juggle flaming bowling pins for safety reasons.
“He gets some people coming in with instruments and they only know two songs, he’s like ‘hey, we’ll give you a permit for 30 days, but I want you to come back in 30 days and you need to know half a dozen songs or you’re going to bored these people.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city saying the fact that there is a screening process is un-American and violates the first amendment — free speech. “The supreme court has said many times that artistic performances are within the heart of the first amendments protection,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU.
Rothert adds, “most cities, especially most big and vibrate cities do not require permits for street musicians at all.”