The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a street performer arrested in Las Vegas.
The ruling, from the court one step below the Supreme Court, has many current street performers hoping for change as they say police have recently stepped up enforcement of ordinances aimed at their field.
"We don't charge people. We always tell people we appreciate it, but it is always free," A street performer named Karen said of tips she receives while dressed as a sexy cop.
Police say a “sexy cop” demanded a tip from an undercover officer after he took a picture with her and a friend back in 2011.
The friend is now suing saying the arrest violated her rights because she never asked for money.
The ninth circuit court ruled in her favor last week, forcing the case back to the district court for trial.
Despite the recent ruling, performers say they are still running into the problem.
"They explained to us that we just saw you take money from those people you just took pictures with. I even explained to them, I didn't ask for money, they gave it to us," a street performer named Jared said of an interaction with police Thursday.
Jared said he and his friend were cited for doing business without a license.
It's not just tipping that is catching police officers eye.
Las Vegas police say they enforce several county ordinances on the Strip.
That list includes:
- 6.56.030 License Required (Subject does not have a business license)
- 6.04.130 Conducting Business on Public right-of-way (Sell/Display/Peddle Merchandise etc.)
- 8.20.270 Packaged liquor license (Subject selling/display etc. alcohol for sale)
- 16.11.090 Obstructive Use of Public Sidewalk (including sleeping)
- 16.11.070 Storing Materials on Public Sidewalk
- 12.12.015 Minor Curfew Violation
- 12.43.025 Glass Beverage Container
- 10.39.010 Prohibited Animal
Lately performers say they have been hammering them on obstructing the sidewalk.
"It has been four or five times in the past four weeks, and it hasn't happened at all in the past seven years," Jacob Jax, a street magician said.
"There are so much stuff that everyone does here every day, that we get in trouble for because we are street performers," Karen said.
Most say it isn't worth the chance of getting arrested to argue with police, saying they can often be helpful.
"Every once in a while you get a belligerent drunk person and police have helped me with that, so I really don't want or have any reason to have an adversarial relationship with them," Jax said.
"Just because we wear a costume and people give us tips doesn't make us any different," Karen said.
The Leader of the Sonic Laborers and Visual Entertainers Union, Michael T. Moore, said he is willing to work with police to establish rules that do not violate the performers’ rights and accomplish some of the officers’ goals.
Moore says he thinks it will take a Supreme Court decision to change the approach to the county codes in the resort corridor.