Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Telephone: 617-522-3407

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Spokane Legal Battle Won November 24, 2008

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New attempt by Honolulu City Council to curtail street performers in Waikiki 2005

The battle never ends... The fake public safety study... How many people have been injured by a street performance? The real public safety issue is abuse of alcohol and drugs.... The City's own Police Reports will document this... Will the Honolulu City Council ban alcohol sales from 7-10 PM? No! The issue is not about public safety. It is about class and money. "City Hall of Shame" continues -- Stephen Baird.

Computer simulation program used to ban performances in Waikiki from 7-10 PM. http://www.simwalk.com/applications/simwalk_urban_planning.html The simulation study, conducted by Karl Kim, Professor of Urban and Regional Planning University of Hawaii at Manoa, is based on pedestrian counting data for the Kalakaua Avenue. This study ignores the research of actual photographs and films by urban planner William H, Whyte that show people will "self regulate" crowds to minimize danger to personal safety. This research concept was confirmed when the Honolulu Police Chief stated there have been no injuries caused by street performances at a public hearing.

William H, Whyte testified in the Davenport vs. Alexanddria federal court case where the judge stated: "there has been shown no safety interest substantial enough to outweigh the plaintiff's First Amendment interests." Davenport v. City of Alexandria, VA.748 F.2d 208 (1984)

Rediscovering the Center City (Doubleday 1988) by William H. Whyte The author, William H. Whyte, was an expert architect witness in favor of street performances in the Davenport v. Alexandria, Virginia and the Friedrich v. Chicago, Illinois federal court cases. He provided important testimony to rebut the exaggerated and bogus public safety issues often presented by city officials to suppress and ban street performances. Details of this issue can be found in the third chapter. William H. Whyte also wrote an earlier book titled The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces which documented street performances and pedestrian behavior.b See: Project for Public Spaces, 153 Waverly Place, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014 Fred Kent, President, Phone: 212 620-5660, Fax: 212 620-3821 Email: pps@pps.org. Web site: http://www.pps.org/

The new law Bill 71 PDF can be downloaded HERE

Waikiki Documentary ADHD Films, LLC is doing a documentary on the new law that bans street performers in certain locations and during certain hours in Waikiki. If you are looking to be a part of a fun documentary experience then email info@adhdfilms.com http://www.adhdfilms.com ADHD Films, LLC, 345 Queen Street, Suite 900, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Waikiki Street Performers Win Lawsuit 2001


The Waikiki Street Performers fought a two year battle with the city to keep the right to perform. This battle received extensive press coverage from local papers, Associated Press and national arts advocacy groups. From the ACLU web site: http://www.aclu.org/news/2001/n122801a.html

ACLU Wins Artistic Expression Lawsuit On Behalf of Waikiki Street Performers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, December 28, 2001

HONOLULU -- In a victory for free speech advocates and champions of artistic expression, a district court judge today threw out a local ordinance that unconstitutionally limited the rights of street performers in the city of Waikiki on Oahu.

The legal challenge was originally brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i on behalf of clients who included a musician, a magician and a youth leader from an area church.

Defenders of the ordinance - which restricts performers' access to parts of the city and stipulates a lengthy permit process -- claimed their original intent was to ensure the safety of persons performing around constant pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

"The decision acknowledges that the city's claim of concern for safety was false. The evidence showed that they wanted the street performers not in locations that were safe but in locations where they would not be able to reach an audience," said Brent White, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaii.

In her 42-page opinion, Judge Virginia Crandall said the city ordinance violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the federal constitution and corresponding provisions of the state constitutions; her ruling permanently blocked the law from taking effect.

The ordinance had been scheduled to go into effect on July 12, 2000, but had been temporarily prohibited after the ACLU filed a legal challenge in June of that year. The measure sought to ban religious, political, and artistic expression in almost all of Waikiki for all individuals, not just street performers, the ACLU argued. For example, the ordinance banned such acts as reciting the bible on the street corner, singing patriotic songs, chanting slogans against the government, and sitting on a public bench strumming the guitar. Individuals who wished to engage in free expression had to apply a month in advance for a permit for one of six remote locations.

The ACLU's clients included musician Steve Sunn, known as "Sonny Beethoven," who has been playing the saxophone in Waikiki for almost 20 years; Steve Williams, a street magician; and Shawn Kawelo, who leads the Greater Mount Zion Holiness Church youth group to Waikiki every other Friday where they sing, recite the Bible, and preach as a means of spreading their religious message.

"Today's decision vindicates our arguments that the city all along had no intention of protecting the rights of street performers but instead intended to eliminate them from Waikiki," said Earle Partington, co-counsel in the case.

Support for the ordinance came largely from the Waikiki business community. The City Council did not invite testimony from a single street performer.

A news release about the initial filing of the lawsuit is online at: http://www.aclu.org/news/2000/n062900b.html


Please go to and read the stories and articles at the following links. The last link is titled City Hall of Shame Honolulu Hale ignores First Amendment Freedoms. by Robert M. Rees published on August 8, 2001. It is full of outrageous statements by city officials to ban T-shirts with slogans on them, and:

Bainum and others who should know better have let themselves be taken captive by the tourist industry, and have combined to form a First Amendment "City Hall of Shame." To qualify for this pantheon, one must understand it is wrongheaded and dangerous to use the O'Brien standards as window dressing for unconstitutional limitations on free expression -- but be willing to do so anyway. This criterion eliminates some likely candidates. Councilmember John DeSoto, for example, apparently has zero understanding of the issues, and once asked of the entire Council, "What's wrong with banning street performers all together? I say ban it." Qualifying for the City Hall of Shame, besides Mayor Harris, are five who do understand that Honolulu should not be governed after the fashion of Disneyland, but who are, nevertheless, intent on doing so.

City Hall of Shame Honolulu Hale ignores First Amendment Freedoms. by Robert M. Rees published on August 8, 2001 by Honolulu Weekly.











Links and References

There are hundreds of photographs, blogs and tourist home pages about Waikiki street performers:

Film on Waikiki street entertainers. http://nanabijou.com/

Hana Hou! story on street performer dressed up as Panda Bear http://www.hanahou.com/pandahandling.html


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