Tara Ciccarone v. Clean Zones, the Super Bowl and Jazz Fest



The Sacred Shrine of Bon Jovi.
  • The Sacred Shrine of Bon Jovi.

The ACLU successfully challenged the city's Clean Zone ordinance on the grounds that it violated free speech rights covered by the First Amendment. (The zone's rules have been changed.) One of the plaintiffs in the suit was Tara Ciccarone. Her name rang a bell with Gambit contributor Marta Jewson, who interviewed Ciccarone two years ago about the Bon Jovi Shrine.

Ciccarone originally created the Shrine in 2009 in response to similar Clean Zone issues during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Ciccarone lived on Maurepas Street, blocks from the Fair Grounds Race Course and some of her neighbors had been issued citations for illegally vending in a Clean Zone set up around the festival. Since Ciccarone is an artist who makes and sells jewelry, she was concerned that she could not sell her jewelry from her home.

Her response was a bit abstract — and also referenced local grousing about whether Bon Jovi should be booked to play Jazz Fest — but she put up the shrine and a can of Aqua Net and set out a jar for donations. The shrine drew limited attention in its first year, but she maintained its presence on her porch. It got limited attention the second year as well, when Bon Jovi was not in the Jazz Fest lineup. But when Bon Jovi was scheduled again in 2011, it got a lot of attention, especially as word of the shrine spread over the Internet. Ciccarone says the both Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis and Bon Jovi's brother eventually visited the shrine.

Ciccarone eventually dismantled much of the shrine after her dog was run over by a car in front of her home.

Later, she changed the concept of the shrine. Ciccarone had gotten involved in the local Occupy movement. She had posters and materials from friends from the New York Occupy movement, and she decided to let the movement occupy the shrine. Some of that story is here, on Ciccarone's tumblr.

When the Super Bowl Clean Zone was announced, Ciccarone objected. She had plans to join Occupy activities during the Super Bowl. She was the perfect plaintiff for the ACLU because she expressly intended to hold up signs wherever the Clean Zone is, because it is a violation of the First Amendment. There's more on Clean Zones in Super Bowl cities in this post by Charles Maldonado.

There's more about the local Occupy related activities here.

As described in court papers, Ciccarone is preparing to hold signs visible near the Super Bowl.

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