LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After pushback from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others, the Las Vegas city council recommending committee is recommending the rule changes targeted at performers along the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) be struck, or removed, from the council’s calendar. However, the proposed changes will be reconsidered at a later time according to the city manager’s office.
In the proposed changes, the city of Las Vegas said it has evidence of people reportedly creating duplicate or phantom accounts to fraudulently claim the areas designated as performing circles, or even sell or barter for prime locations.
Other changes include the rules over street performers’ power audio in what was called “sound wars” between performers in Monday’s committee meeting.
The final change would require some, but not all, performers to provide proof of liability insurance. Examples of this as written by the city are performers who come in contact with the public, a performer who lays down, any performer who does acrobatics, a performer that invites a member of the public to physically assault, hit, or kick the performer, and stage combat including pretend sword fighting and shadow boxing.
The head of ACLU of Nevada addressed the committee and said it would sue the city if these rule changes took place. In a separate letter, the ACLU writes the rule changes infringe on the first amendment rights of performers and do not address what it calls the biggest offender of current rules, Fremont Street Experience LLC.
The ACLU also points out that the rule changes specifically target the performer’s right to free speech without addressing the larger problems it claims just need to be enforced. The ACLU also writes the noise made by the FSE during the day and night far exceeds anything street performers are capable of producing.
The ACLU writes, “The Bill does not want less noise or crowding; rather it wants to choose who makes the noise and the crowds.”
After public comment on the proposed halt to the rule changes, Councilwoman Michelle Fiore commented the council and city manager’s office need to look at rules used in cities such as New York saying when she was recently there she saw police detaining a naked man followed by saying about the FSE, “We don’t need naked people on Fremont Street Experience.
Councilwoman Fiore then appeared to address the head of the local ACLU in the audience telling him, “We’re sued by you guys all the time, bring it.” Councilwoman Fiore then said downtown is more of a locals place and it needs to be safe, adding “What I’ve seen down there from some of the street performers, they’re not street performers, and they shouldn’t be there.”
The Recommending Committee’s action Monday will need to be voted by the full council in the May 4 meeting.
Pat Reilly spoke on behalf of the FSE saying he felt the need to respond. Reilly spoke about how the ACLU worked with them and agreed on the current rules and lottery system in 2011 and 2015 and that the current proposed changes were worked on for a year before this point.
Reilly ended by saying he and FSE are open to talking about the proposed changes again and are willing to go back to the drawing board.
Fiore is running for state treasurer.