The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » The First Amendment (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

bigfoot
View Profile
Special user
503 Posts

Profile of bigfoot
Has anyone in your area had any ACLU involvement in busking?

Busking falls under the First Amendment, most certainly fredom of speech as well as assembly, and this includes soliciting and accepting donations. We have had a city nearby where the ACLU pressed a class action law suite because the law enforcement harrassed and arrested numerous performers. The town reached a settlement that they would not only rewrite the laws pertaining to busking but would also kick the season off with a big buskers festival. They also removed the fee for the permits. They still have people register so they know who is out there performing but they no longer can dictate when and where they perform either. This has had a huge impact in the cities around it too, many do not want the ACLU involved.

I would really like to hear about any accounts near you.
noland
View Profile
Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of noland
What is the name of the city you're referring to?
noland
View Profile
Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of noland
Here's a slightly different legal issue. I live in Maryland, which is within what's considered the Greater Washington area. I have read that there was a ruling favorable to busking in connection with a case brought against Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, which had a ban on sidewalk performing. The ruling was from the 4th Circuit Court in 1984, and, as I understand it, is the controlling law not only in Virginia, but in Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. Within the past few years I have experimented with sidewalk busking at locations in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, and Silver Spring, Maryland (both are within Montgomery County, Maryland). In both cases, I ran into situations in which private security guards asked me to leave, claiming that the particular sidewalk areas were owned by the developers of the adjacent buildings, and that I was trespassing on private property. The sidewalk areas, I should mention, were not in locations that I would consider as obvious private areas, such as malls, but rather bordered public streets. So here's my question: does anyone know if a first amendment right to busk can be asserted in the case of "private" sidewalk areas which are nevertheless essential to the public's use, since they border on public streets and which the general public has a right of access to in order to get by?
MagiCol
View Profile
Special user
Dargaville, New Zealand
929 Posts

Profile of MagiCol
Hi, Noland! I wonder if your enquiry could be localized by enquiring from the security guards just where their source of authority is to their claim that the particular sidewalk areas were owned [and administered?] by the developers of the adjacent buildings?
I would think that somewhere the terms of 'ownership' of the access/sidewalk would be stated. Usually the onus is on the person who makes a claim to show evidence of it.

A similar thing happened in downtown Auckland, New Zealand out on a wharf where accommodation was developed and there had to be public access over the wharf which after a while was denied to people. The matter was checked out and the denial of access had to be removed. I recall somewhere in downtown Auckland some building had to set aside a part of it for public use and, again, it took protest by the public to get that right restored.
I've seen cases of public 'shortcut' footpaths/sidewalks in suburbs being blocked off with fences by locals who didn't like people using them, it seems, and the blocked-off stayed, probably because no one notified the local authority of the change, or the local authority never got around to demolishing the fence. After a while people just accepted that there was no thoroughfare.

Once when I was busking I took shelter from rain on the pavement against a shop window and a security person came along and told me someone in the shop had asked for me to move because I was blocking their window display area. So I moved, because I didn't see it affecting my busking at the time.
Some problems are local and can be fixed up locally and rather quickly.

Trying to figure out whether a battle is worth fighting or not is tricky [I don't mean that as a magic illusion!]

Let's know what you end up doing about the matter, please.
The presentation makes the magic.
noland
View Profile
Veteran user
321 Posts

Profile of noland
Hi Collin:

The terms of ownership for these particular sidewalks certainly are not posted anywhere. There probably is a legal document in a lawyer's file between the developer and city that spells out certain access rights, but it's not something I have access to, nor plan to spend time researching. My impression is that local jurisdictions like Silver Spring and Bethesda are cutting deals with developers to renovate/develop their downtown areas in return for certain concessions, including control/ownership of the sidewalks, even though the old sidewalks belonged wholly to the cities. I also suspect that if one tested this issue in court, a busker might be able to make a good legal argument to the right to busk in these areas on 1st amendment grounds. I'm wondering whether any one out there has encountered this situation here in the U.S., and whether anyone has contested the developers' claim to be able to limit access to buskers. Anyone have any experience with this?
ed rhodes
View Profile
Inner circle
Rhode Island
2746 Posts

Profile of ed rhodes
On Thayer Street, when I busked outside the Brown University Bookstore, they said I had to busk from the curb and not against the building. Oddly enough, one night I went home and passed a guitar player who was in fact against the actual building. Either they didn't notice, or didn't care because he wasn't gathering a crowd, but was collecting tips from people passing by.
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
MagiCol
View Profile
Special user
Dargaville, New Zealand
929 Posts

Profile of MagiCol
Ah, yes, re the curb side or the building side of a pavement/footpath. I had permission from a shop at one place to use the strip outside their pavement window; the building they were in was set back about a yard or so from the legal front boundary of the shop, so that strip of the pavement was their property.
I used that strip once a year [tied in with a Christmas Parade] for about four years. Then I switched to the far side of the street because more people were on that far side, and nobody complained anyway.

Using a pitch is dependent on what the local rules are and how much they are enforced by both official and local custom. You find that out, as Noland has, by working there, getting feedback, and who now wants to check out the matter further.

Or you can ask around for who's 'in charge' of the prospective pitch area and find out what they have to say. The trouble with this approach is that you have alerted 'official' folk to your prospective presence/pitch and that enquiry is likely to set off 'alarm' bells that could see permission denied to you. That's one reason working under the radar is one approach to street performing/busking.
The presentation makes the magic.
Magic1
View Profile
Veteran user
Los Angeles
391 Posts

Profile of Magic1
Here's a link to a downloadable busker's rights card that could be useful when interacting with law enforcement or private security
http://gravitydefiance.net/wp/yes-buskin......illegal/
Magic1
View Profile
Veteran user
Los Angeles
391 Posts

Profile of Magic1
The author is Richard Hartnell, a contact juggler in Santa Cruz, California
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » The First Amendment (1 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.09 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL