NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A street preacher sued on Thursday to block a city ordinance that restricts religious or political speech on Bourbon Street after dark.
In his federal lawsuit, New Orleans pastor Paul Gros claimed the city's "aggressive solicitation" ordinance sets unconstitutional limits on free speech.
Gros said he was preaching on Bourbon Street with his wife, another pastor and a friend on the night of May 15 when police ordered him to stop.
"They told him if he didn't stop he would be arrested," said one of his attorneys, Nate Kellum.
Gros left without being arrested. Less than a month ago, however, police arrested several preachers on Bourbon Street during the Southern Decadence gay pride festival.
The city council adopted the ordinance in October 2011. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
The measure makes it a crime for anyone 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."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and the city council's members are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Landrieu's office and City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who sponsored the ordinance, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Palmer has said it was crafted as a public safety measure to help with crowd control.
Kellum said he wasn't aware of any similar ordinances in other cities.
"I've never seen anything like it, really," Kellum said.
The lawsuit said Gros was a "professing Christian" and pastor of Vieux Carre Assembly of God Church in the French Quarter, a block from Bourbon Street. Gros has been preaching on the French Quarter's streets for 30 years and doesn't intend to harass anyone or solicit any funds, his suit said.
"Because Pastor Gros firmly believes a large number of people found on Bourbon Street at night desperately need to have saving faith in Jesus Christ, he wants to go there at that time and share the gospel message with them," the suit said.
Attorneys for the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tenn., and the Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, Ariz., filed the suit on behalf of Gros.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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