Asserting that New Orleans’ “clean zones” unconstitutionally restrict the right to free speech, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana filed a lawsuit challenging the 2018 arrest of environmental activist Luke Fontana. Fontana was arrested and jailed for setting up an informational table about his organization, Save Our Wetlands, during the French Quarter Festival in April, 2018.
Fontana was arrested and spent 10 hours in jail, simply for providing information about his nonprofit in a public space.
While the charges against Fontana were ultimately dropped, he fears that he will be harassed and arrested if he attempts to exercise his First Amendment rights in one of the city’s “clean zones” in the future.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, asks the Court to declare the city’s “clean zone” ordinance (No. 32,047) unconstitutional and block the New Orleans Police Department from enforcing it in a manner that restricts free speech under the First Amendment.
UPDATE: On April 10, the City of New Orleans agreed to refrain from harassing or arresting environmental activist Luke Fontana for tabling at this year's French Quarter Festival.