2013 Press Releases

01.28.2013: City Agrees to Narrow Clean Zone Restrictions After ACLU Suit

NEW ORLEANS—The ACLU of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans have reached an amicable agreement to modify the “Clean Zone” regulations adopted by the City in advance of the Super Bowl. In response to an ACLU lawsuit filed on behalf of a political protester and a preacher, the City has agreed to substantially change policies that could have severely restricted constitutionally protected speech, from political and religious messages to advertisements promoting the City’s local businesses.

“This is a great result for the people of New Orleans, our visitors and businesses within the Clean Zone,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. “The language of the Clean Zone ordinance and guide was originally unclear and much too broad, but with these changes, individuals can rest assured that their Mardi Gras flags can fly, their political opinions can be expressed, and local businesses can advertise with much fewer restrictions.”

“We are grateful to the City for recognizing the problems with the language as originally drafted, and working with us to bring about appropriate changes.” Esman continued. “The quick resolution of this dispute means that no one’s rights were violated in preparation for the Super Bowl.”

Here is a summary of the changes:

(1)       The City clarified that the Clean Zone applies only to commercial activity. Protestors, religious preachers, Carnival revelers and other individuals not engaged in business can carry signs, flags and other noncommercial displays, provided they obey all other applicable laws.

(2)        Language prohibiting “general advertising,” which could have prohibited local businesses from advertising at their own places of businesses or points of sale, has been eliminated. Businesses may now advertise their products and services on site. However, off-site advertisements (advertisements for products sold elsewhere) and mobile advertisements may still be prohibited without the approval of either the City or the NFL.

(3)        Advertisements, signs and other media otherwise allowed under the Ordinance no longer need to contain NFL-approved content, or NFL look, branding and feel.

(4)        Permission to display advertisements, signs and other forms of media is no longer limited to NFL sponsors. Other businesses may advertise, as long as they comply with the rest of the Clean Zone regulations.

(5)        “Temporary signs” – including advertisements – are no longer prohibited. Businesses may advertise on site with temporary signs. Advertisements with other devices such as billboards, building-wrap banners, LED-displays and A-Frame signs are still restricted.

The Consent Judgment entered into by the City can be found here. The City has published a full list of the changes on its website.

The temporary restraining order imposed by the Court will be lifted now that the Clean Zone regulations have been changed to reflect both Constitutional requirements and the City’s original intent.