Last night, the Public Safety Committee of the Portland City Council rejected most of the proposals before it restricting the constitutional rights of street artists to create and sell works of art in Portland. But, the committee gave its approval to one proposal--requiring artists to register with the city and obtain a special tag.

At the ACLU of Maine, we've been outspoken in our defense of street artists for many years. One of the first matters I handled for the organization when I started as a staff attorney here nine years ago was a negotiation with the Portland city attorney over city regulation of political and artistic speech. The ordinances that resulted from those negotiations are very protective of First Amendment rights, but unfortunately, some members of the public, and some members of the City Council, want to undo that good work. 

Portland generally takes pride in being an artist-friendly city, and hopefully when these proposals go before the full council, they will all be rejected outright.