Police stick with ‘ban on ‘obscene’ music at the Newcomers Parade

March 2015


Live events sector


In the U.S., local Police Chief Calder Hebert has confirmed to reporters that the St. Martinville Police Department will continue with its policy of keeping the Newcomer’s Parade as “family-friendly” as possible by removing any parade float playing “obscene” music, Hebert’s comments come just a few days after receiving a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana stating SMPD attempts to remove floats due to playing ‘obscene’ music would be considered unconstitutional and the letter, addressed to Hebert and SMPD, states the police department does not have the right to enforce an obscene music ban during the parade. The letter said: “First, we recognize that the Newcomer’s Club is a private organization with the right to set rules for participation in its parade. Our concern is not whether or how a private club may regulate participation in its event, but rather how police will enforce those rules,” the letter stated. The three-page letter, written by ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman, also cited an article published by The Teche News stating that city officials had singled out “rap” music in a January 20th St. Martinville City Council meeting. Esman said singling out rap music could potentially lead to racial profiling because “rap music is widely popular among African-American music.” Hebert denied any that there was a blanket ban or any move to ban or single out rap music during the parade saying “Too much emphasis has been made out of one little thing. Rap music has never come out of any city official’s mouth,” Hebert said. “We just want all the residents and visitors to be safe and have a family-friendly environment.” However questions were raised about  How ‘obscene’ would be determined remains controversial. University of Louisiana at Lafayette professor William Davie is reported as saying that the scope of “obscene” music would be too difficult to single out for law enforcement and is a matter of opinion as to what someone views as obscene or not saying “As graphic as some of modern music is and as detailed as it is, I caution any police chief or agent of the government to enforce any action” and referenced Miami-based rap group 2 Live Crew as an example of obscenity and music in the court of law saying that in 1992, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a 1990 federal ruling that declared the group’s album, “As Nasty as They Wanna Be,” illegal for retailers in southern Florida to sell because of its “obscenities.” The courts ruled the album, despite its controversy, was still artistic material and protected by the U.S. Constitution.



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