South Bend confronts free speech - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend confronts free speech


Is South Bend being too harsh when it comes to its street musicians? The ACLU of Indiana hosted a panel discussion this afternoon on the busking law that says when performers can be out, and makes them buy a permit. The ACLU has sued over the law.

The organization brought their First Wednesday program, a lunch hour discussion, on the road to South Bend Wednesday afternoon to answer questions about their lawsuit and to discuss issues of free speech.

The panel focused on the validity of South Bend's busking ordinance. They discussed how to encourage street performance in a safe, enjoyable way.

"I think adding street performers is a great idea, but you don't want it to be chaos. You want it to be something that is beneficial for the street performers and beneficial for our residents," said Former South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke, one of the panel members.

Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana, Jane Henegar, says you may not like being asked for money, but...

"The Supreme Court has said soliciting money, asking people for money-some people call it pan handling-is protected speech," Henegar said.

The panel agreed it could use some regulation, though.

"I think there is a time restriction you can look at reasonably in particular with downtown becoming more residential," Mayor Luecke said.

Common Council President Oliver Davis was at the meeting. He says he'll take the ideas raised today back to the Council when they decide whether to keep the current ordinance.

"There may be some things we can do to encourage performers without necessarily creating an ordinance," Davis said.

The panel also considered reducing aggressive pan handling with busking free zones around areas like ATMS.

The panel also briefly talked about an issue related to Henry Davis Jr's Facebook posting earlier this year, and whether elected officials can post whatever they like on social media.

They also quickly touched on the city's wiretapping case.


  • FOX Web Poll

  • What should the South Bend Common Council do about its busking ordinance?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Completely remove the ordinance
    2 votes
    Modify the ordinance so performers don't have to pay for a permit
    1 vote
    Modify the ordinance to include zones in which people can't panhandle
    0 votes
    Modify the ordinance in a different way
    1 vote
    Keep the ordinance
    0 votes
    0 votes
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