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Hollywood superhero street performers should not face arrest, judge rules


Wolverine, Batman and Superman should be allowed to hang out on Hollywood Boulevard without fear of arrest, according to a preliminary injunction issued Wednesday against the city of Los Angeles.

The motion protects the performers who dress up as comic book movie characters on Hollywood Boulevard. Many of them have complained of police harassment in recent months.

About two dozen characters were arrested in June on various charges, including blocking a public sidewalk. Since then, according to the performers, the police have effectively forced anyone in costume off Hollywood Boulevard by threatening them with arrest.

U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson said in his motion granting the preliminary injunction that the actions of the police “selectively and impermissibly” targeted the characters to prevent them from performing and soliciting tips.

"The court is further sensitive that although costumed performance may not be a traditional form of speech, it is without doubt a protected one," Pregerson wrote.

Matt Balke, a performer who dresses as Wolverine, said in a statement that the decision was a victory for the 1st Amendment.

“For the last few months, the police have been bragging that we have no First Amendment rights unless they give them to us," Balke said. "The court’s decision shows who says what the First Amendment means."

Carol Sobel, the attorney representing Balke and several other plaintiffs in the case, said she expected the performers to be back out on Hollywood Boulevard this weekend.


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-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Police arrest performer on Hollywood Boulevard. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

Comments () | Archives (35)

There's more to this story. These masked idiots have caused numerous problems along Hollywood Blvd. Just check youtube. There's several videos of these goons starting fights and acting disorderly. In one of the videos the person dressed as Batman can be seen beating a defenseless homeless man, while onlookers plead for him to stop.

Why? What is the problem? It only adds to the crazyness of this city, and tourists love it! The police should have more important to do, like protecting people from burglaries, rape, murders etc. Police in LA becomes like TSA...? Petty gropers?

Great decision...street mimes, entertainers & musicians are NOT criminals unless they break GENUINE LAWS!!

Ha! That's what you get lapd when you racial profile superheroes. Really? Arrest superman? Really?

Matt should also have mentioned the "one particular police officer" that was known by all the performers for almost exclusively being the main instigator in the rather abhorrent behavior described above, whom all the performers had met. This guy always made it a point to say something personal and intimidating to all the performers he harassed there. Some hotshot transplant from New York or something.

Matt should also have mentioned the "one particular police officer" that was known by all the performers for almost exclusively being the main instigator in the rather abhorrent behavior described above, whom all the performers had met. This guy always made it a point to say something personal and intimidating to all the performers he harassed there. Some hotshot transplant from New York or something.

This is the best photo I've seen since the one earlier today of the cop, with a huge smile on his face, punching a kid in the gut with his baton. What's next LAPD: Using a water cannon to break up a riot at a day care?

With all the crime around here you would think that the police could go and at least try and catch a real criminal.What a waste of my tax dollars.

Hey Super hereos and look a likes HOORAY! Now the cops can do something more constructive with their time (I think they just wanted to get their pix taken with YOU) and remember Super heros et al, no strong-arming the tourists or the cops come back, right!

While I find these so-called entertainers a bit creepy and they generally appeal to naive tourists, I do think arresting them is a bit heavy handed. Zone them, regulate them, make them pay a fee, etc. If the industry is supporting arrests due to copyright issues, they should pursue those matters civily. Thank you for listening.

And people wonder why the police are not respected. They think they are the law.

What a crock!!! That judge needs to go out to the streets of Hollywood and see the violence and crime that is occurring having those characters on the streets. They fight with the Hip Hop artists trying to sell their CD's. The judge doesn't mention anything about how these characters can solitict money from tourists without a permit. This judge is endangering public safety and what's going to happen is one of those characters will be stabbed or shot or something horrible will happen and then what will the Judge say

Wicked cool photo of Spiderman in cuffs and the look on the faces of the tourists, but let's call a spade a spade. These prople aren't "performers". They just stand around looking for money for photos. "Performers" HA, panhandlers plain and simple.

really?? law enforcement is regulating against street performers??? great p.r. lapd- hope this helps fight crime on the mean streets of LA

Thank goodness! I used to live in the area and all the performers were well-known locales. I was just in Hollywood yesterday and mentioned how sad it was to drive down the Blvd and not see the characters. Although there were two Catwomen looking like they were gonna have it out over Douglas Fairbanks footprints. The Hollywood cops will have to find some other way to fill their shifts.

When these clowns in their costumes jump out of a hidden area and push / pinch a woman to get attention the time has come to put them in cuffs. This happened to a woman I was walking with adjacent to Graumans Theatre. When I was made aware of the problem I turned around and confronted the costumed pervert. His attitude was so what are you going to do about it. Not being a denizen of Hollywood I did not realize this was an ongoing problem. Had I known that I would have contacted the police and filed a formal complaint against the masked pervert. Some of these costumed clowns are out of control and need to be dealt with accordingly.

They make Hollywood Blvd! At least they are trying to earn a living by dressing up and performing! Don't the police have better things to do like catch criminals that rape , steal and kill?

It all makes sense now,
innocent people are getting killed by drunk drivers, and high profile people getting gunned down.


The city of LA should just pass an ordinance requiring these street performers to have peddler license instead of harassing them.

YAY!! I'm SO HAPPY. It's about time!! Hollywood trip...coming up :)

The little girl's face in this picture is priceless. It seems that she can't believe that spider man is being arrested.. Lol..

Finally, a judge makes a common sense decision to stop this petty, ridiculous harassment! There are much, much larger - and expensive and detrimental - criminal issues in LA.

There are a few genuinely nice costumed people who know how to handle themselves and treat people with respect. The others can be aggressive and make tourists very uncomfortable. I was approached by Bugs Bunny while buying a ticket for a movie at the Chinese Theater. He rushed up and pointed in my wallet. Spongebob just approached and rubbed his fingers together, miming the "money" sign. The police have been called on Chewbacca, Batman and Elmo for accosting tourists, or each other. That Spiderman in the picture is an old junkie.

Sure, it's great for a laugh. Elmo had been arrested. Ha ha. But unless you spend serious time on the Boulevard, you don't see what a nuisance they are. C'mon, a man dressed like Michael Myers from Halloween jumping around acorner with a knife? Please. Welcome to Hollywood!

Tourism is important in Hollywood and we have tourists to protect. People assume they work for someone, they don't realize that any person in the world (balanced or unbalanced) can get a costume and run around up there.

Make the performers get licensed, and enforce it. That would help, I'm sure a lot of them wouldn't even qualify.

But then they don't even enforce cars running red lights in this town.

Clean the garbage up. L.A. could be what NYC is now if they had some guts. How would Orlando handle out of work entertainers dressing as Mickey and Minnie outside the gates of Disneyworld? L.A. needs to man up.

I lived in Santa Monica for about ten years. The highlights about living there are going to 3rd street promenade to walk around, see a movie and the outdoor entertainment.
In those 10 years I never felt any reason to call the police to remove a street vendor/entertainer. The police have bigger fish to fry. The people pushing drugs, the prostitution, etc. These people dressing like whomever don't cause any problems. Get off Spidys back....

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