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Nine Men Arrested at New Orleans ‘Decadence’ Festival for Religious Speech After Sundown
ICC Note:
Thanks to a city ordinance enacted in New Orleans last year, nine men were arrested this week for spreading a “religious” message during one of the “ nation’s most notorious celebrations of homosexuality.” The Christians were later released, but some say the city ordinance is unconstitutional and violates U.S. citizen’s first amendment rights to free speech.   
By Heather Clark
09/02/2012 United States (Christian News)- A group of nine men that attended the Southern Decadence Festival in New Orleans yesterday were arrested and jailed for violating a new city ordinance that prohibits religious and other free speech after sundown on the city’s famed Bourbon Street.
The ordinance, which was passed in October 2011, is called “Aggressive Solicitation.” While it aims to prohibit individuals from selling items or soliciting donations in an aggressive manner, it also includes one sentence that is meant to curb religious and political speech on the popular section of the French Quarter.
Subsection four of the “Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance states, “It shall be prohibited for any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”
The Southern Decadence Festival, one of the nation’s most notorious celebrations of homosexuality in that it is often is marked by public drunkenness and open sex acts, is held in the city’s French Quarter. Bourbon Street is one of the most populated areas during the event.
Saturday’s situation began when Gary Brown of Fayetteville, North Carolina was speaking to the crowds as dusk had set in. Police immediately placed Brown and another associate under arrest for violating the ordinance.
Seven other men who were holding signs had moved down the street approximately a block away. They were also taken into custody minutes later.
Not all of the names of those arrested were released, but as of press time, they included Brian Cranford, Patrick O’Connell and Larry Craft. Craft regularly speaks at homosexual events across the country much like Southern Decadence. An online video from June of this year shows Craft addressing a crowd at a pride festival in Cleveland, Ohio, who used profanity at one point while decrying a deviant act.
The men were released from jail at approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon.
Ruben Israel of Los Angeles, California was also at the festival, but was reportedly not taken into custody. Israel is most known for being among those that were pelted with stones by Muslims earlier this year at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan when he brought a pig’s head on a pole to the event.
Israel said that the pig’s head was meant to ward off Muslims due to negative response that he received from attendees last year.

While some state that the statute is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, supporters opine that in passing the law, city council “intend[ed] to recognize free speech rights for all citizens while at the same time protecting the coexistent rights for all citizens to enjoy safe and convenient travel in public spaces free from intimidation, threats and harassment that stem from certain types of aggressive solicitation.”

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