Dancing in the streets

What part of the First Amendment don’t the security guards at the Fremont Street Experience understand?

For more than a decade, the ACLU has won court battle after court battle to preserve the rights of people to engage in constitutionally protected activities at the attraction, such as passing out political literature and the like.

But this apparently doesn’t mean much to the city of Las Vegas, Fremont Street Experience officials and the security staff.

Just nine months ago, a federal judge tossed out the city’s latest attempt to regulate behavior at the Experience, saying the ordinance would prevent religious or political solicitations, which are “fully protected speech.”

The city didn’t appeal, but ACLU officials say that in recent months, guards at the Experience have been harassing people for dancing or even taking pictures.

For instance, Brett Harris, a second-year law student at UNLV, said she was confronted by a guard when she began tap dancing on Fremont Street one night last summer. The guard told her she needed a permit, but when she went to the Experience offices, nobody knew how to obtain one.

That’s because the whole rigmarole about needing a permit is blatant nonsense. No such system or requirement is in place for noncommercial speech.

The ACLU this week filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to hold various people associated with the Experience — including some city officials — in contempt of court for failing to abide by previous judicial rulings.


Let’s hope the judge puts his foot down. The defendants have for years exhibited a blatant contempt for free expression. Their recent refusal to back off the heavy-handed tactics despite numerous court orders reveals an obvious contempt for the judicial process, also.

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