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By Golly, It's a Public Sidewalk!

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 11th November 2004 3:45pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 0


A feud between pavement preachers and Las Vegas casinos, has reached an uneasy truce, thanks to the most unlikely of peace-brokers. Casino owners, who rely on a carefree "Sin City" image to attract tourists and gamblers, have long objected to the small band of placard-bearing preachers who march the pavements denouncing prostitutes, homosexuals, the devil and gambling. Security guards used to try to move them on.

The preachers have insisted the pavements along the famous Las Vegas "Strip" are public forums where they have the right to spread the gospel as they wish. Occasionally the disputes have turned into scuffles, much to the delight of crowds of onlookers.

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union, ironically despised by the preachers and the casinos, has negotiated a deal. Both sides have accepted a tenuous agreement which bans commercial activity, such as the handing out of invitations to strip clubs and massage parlours, but allows preachers and demonstrators to stay as long as their placards are no wider than the width of their bodies.

The ACLU became involved after 500 trades union protesters were arrested for trespassing at the MGM Grand Hotel. The incident led to a lawsuit, and a court ruling on another protest that the pavement in front of the resort was a public forum, although it was on private property.

"What the court said, basically, is that if it looks like a sidewalk, smells like a sidewalk and functions like a sidewalk, then by golly, it's a public sidewalk," said Gary Peck, executive director of the Nevada ACLU.

[ Repent now! Or miss the $3.99 Prime Rib at Harrahs! - Ed ]



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