ACLU Set To Protect St. Louis Street Performers From City Ordinance

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kevin-killeen Kevin Killeen
Kevin Killeen joined the KMOX News Team in July 1995 as morning...
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The American Civil Liberties Union is going to the rescue of buskers, or street performers, in the city of St. Louis, by asking a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction against a city ordinance that requires street performers to audition and pay a permit fee.

ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert says the ordinance is not right.

“You don’t need a permit to speak on the sidewalk, you don’t need a permit to hand out leaflets, it’s not clear to us why you need a permit to play a guitar on the sidewalk,” Rothert says.

Rothert says performing on the street is free speech.

“Just like holding a sign, waiving a flag, giving a speech, music has played an integral role in how people express themselves and when you’re expressing yourself on a public sidewalk, the ACLU wants to see your right to do that findicated without government interference,” he says.

The city argued when people are asking for money, which most buskers do, they have less expectation of the first amendment rights. The city has also argued it needs to charge a permit fee to pay the salaries of workers who go out to deal with complaints about the street performers.

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