The ACLU of Nevada Is Suing Las Vegas Again for Restricting Under-21S and Street Performers in a Pedestrian Mall
Author: Nevada Globe Staff
LAS VEGAS – Nearly 20 years after a court decided Fremont Street Experience is a public forum, the ACLU of Nevada is challenging the City of Las Vegas over new efforts to ban persons under 21 and street performers in a pedestrian mall.
In a complaint filed this week, the ACLU argues that a city permit for the Fremont Street Experience that restricts admittance to people over 21 and bans costume masks and face paint violates the First Amendment.
Chris Peterson, the ACLU of Nevada’s legal director, said the city is favoring a private corporation by regulating a public space.
“Most disturbing, Las Vegas has enabled the Fremont Street Limited Liability Corporation to police First Amendment activities,” he stated. “They’ve permitted a private company with its own First Amendment activities on the pedestrian mall to govern others’ activities.”
Las Vegas awarded Fremont Street a special permission for “Festivus” in July. The festival runs every weekend through Nov. 27 and imposes restrictions Friday through Sunday.
Jace Radke, a municipal spokesperson, said, “We don’t comment on pending or current litigation.”
It’s not the first time the ACLU has challenged and won against Las Vegas and Fremont Street Experience’s leafleting regulations.
“As a conventional public forum, that’s where our First Amendment rights are strongest,” Peterson said, citing a 2003 judgment.
Recent incidences involving under-21s prompted the city to consider imposing a curfew in the region. No data was offered to support the proposed ordinance at the recommending committee meeting.
Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said they’ve requested the city for a year for statistics showing 18 to 21-year-olds pose a safety hazard.
The plan was accepted by a committee on August 1 and sent to the City Council.
Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore argued the rule was too broad.
Las Vegas shouldn’t be a police city, she argued. “There are workers under 21. We can’t continue making exceptions.
Brian Knudsen and Stavros Anthony voted to pass the bill but asked for data.
The ordinance was scheduled for August but was removed. The special event permit enables limitations even without the ordinance.
Haseebullah dubbed it a “slap”
Instead of doing a statistical presentation that would have shown 18 to 21-year-olds are not a higher safety threat than anyone else, they pulled the entire curfew rule, and the only reason it’s moving forward is a special event permit, he added. “At this point, we can’t allow continuous delays when people’s rights are being trampled and when 18 to 21-year-olds who share a right to go to that street are still being turned away because of arbitrary measures, only because they can’t legally purchase alcohol and gamble, which doesn’t strike to the core of public safety.”
Two 18-year-olds who were just turned away from the Fremont Street Experience and a street performer named Mr. Gordon are also plaintiffs.
Peterson said Fremont street security has pressured him to reduce his appearances. “They seized his performance equipment.” They close the street when they perform, barring anyone else.
Peterson said the lawsuit also aimed to “remind folks this is a public roadway and a public forum”
Peterson: “We don’t want corporations running our streets.” In a modern American city, public streets and forums don’t favor one person’s rights above another’.
Credits: Nevada Current
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