NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana today demanded an immediate halt to the New Orleans Police Department’s crackdown on street performers in the French Quarter. Even as New Orleans has eased restrictions on indoor businesses as part of the phased reopening process, the New Orleans Police Department has recently ramped up its enforcement against outdoor street performers.
“The recent crackdown on street performers in New Orleans is an irrational and unjustified infringement on the First Amendment rights of musicians who are essential to our city’s way of life,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “While indoor restaurants and retail stores have been allowed to reopen unimpeded, NOPD officers are shutting down outdoor street performers who pose no threat to public health. NOPD’s nonsensical and biased enforcement of these regulations not only threatens the livelihoods of these musicians, it also wastes taxpayer money and undermines public confidence in their ability to keep people safe. NOPD must halt all harassment of street performers immediately and Mayor Cantrell should issue guidance clarifying the rules for such performances under the city’s Phase 3 reopening guidelines.”
Contrary to NOPD’s argument that street performers are restricted under the “live entertainment” provisions of the city’s phase 3 reopening guidelines, street performers have never been subject to the same regulations as live entertainment venues, and city law allows musicians to play musical instruments on a public right of way without a permit.