New Orleans Can’t Limit Street Art Sales To French Quarter

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans ordinance limiting street art sales to two parts of the French Quarter violates the right to free speech, the Louisiana Supreme Court has…

Source: New Orleans Can’t Limit Street Art Sales To French Quarter

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans ordinance limiting street art sales to two parts of the French Quarter violates the right to free speech, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled.

The 5-2 decision Friday came in the case of Lawrence Clark, who was ticketed in 2016 for showing art for sale in the broad median of Esplanade Avenue, which runs between the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny.

The ordinance unconstitutionally limits artistic expression in every New Orleans neighborhood outside the French Quarter, said the majority opinion written by Justice Marcus Clark of West Monroe.

Public defender Laura Bixby, who represented Lawrence Clark, said the decision means “artists are free to display art for sale in any other neighborhood and not risk getting cited for a crime.” She said any appeal would have to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neither the city nor the state Attorney General’s Office, which defended it before the state Supreme Court, responded Friday to requests for comment.

The dissent, by Justice Bernette Johnson of New Orleans, said in part: “Without the ordinance, anyone would be free to sell their artwork anywhere in the city, undermining the city’s efforts to maintain the character and economic vitality of the French Quarter.”

The city ordinance allows artists to get permits to sell their art in and around Jackson Square and off Bourbon Street, in Edison Park, a small area better known as Musical Legends Park. Street sales are not allowed anywhere else, and violators can be fined $500 and sent to jail for six months.

The city also has six or more art markets , some open daily on private properly and others once a month in public spaces. “Those operate under a separate special agreement,” Bixby said.

Lawrence Clark, 43, was cited March 22, 2016, for setting up his art on a table “on the neutral ground,” as New Orleanians call medians. Lower courts refused to throw out the citation, finding the ordinance reasonable.

The justices found that the ordinance didn’t restrict content, but did have to be “narrowly tailored” and leave “ample alternative channels.” For instance, it said, reasonable restrictions might regulate the distance between an artist and the road, or prohibit “distracting behavior.”

“In a city with allegiances to neighborhoods spanning generations, the people who populate Central City, the Garden District, the Irish Channel, Broadmoor, Hollygrove, Gert Town, Mid-City, Treme, City Park, Lakeview, Gentilly Woods, Faubourg Marigny, St. Roch, the Lower Ninth Ward, Little Woods, Village de L’est, Lake Catherine, Algiers Point and English Turn, among other neighborhoods, have limitations imposed on their constitutionally-protected artistic expression,” Justice Clark wrote for the majority.

Johnson was joined in the dissent by Justice Jefferson D. Hughes III of Walker. She wrote: “A swarm of art sellers on city streets would also increase congestion and impede pedestrian and traffic flow, creating public safety concerns. Further, it is my opinion that a city, by regulation, can protect local merchants who incur substantial costs to sell artwork in the city by controlling and governing outdoor vendors of art who necessarily siphon off some of the sales from these local merchants.”

Bixby said she didn’t expect hordes of artists to clog the streets.

“The law has been on the books for a while but has been sort of selectively enforced, I think. I found a few dozen cases over the years,” she said. “I think it will just make it less risky for artists to display art as they already were doing.”

– by Janet McConnaughey, AP reporter

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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