Traverse City Record-Eagle


July 3, 2014

UPDATE: Magistrate dismisses street performers' tickets

TRAVERSE CITY — Kewayden and Maayingan Brauker didn’t need their guitar to sing a little a capella piece — a celebration song of sorts — while hanging out on Front Street, not far from where city police recently ticketed them for violating the city’s street performer ordinance.

The brothers sang their victory anthem Wednesday afternoon, one day after Grand Traverse County Magistrate Tammi Rodgers dismissed the tickets, citing concerns about the brothers’ free speech rights and the city ordinance’s language.

“I feel wonderful,” Maayingan Brauker, 17, said. “It’s good the justice system recognizes the Constitution over city laws and ordinances.”

Grand Traverse County prosecutors also declined to charge the Braukers with obstruction of justice after they reviewed a police report about the brothers’ ticketing.

City ordinances require street performers of all stripes -- musicians, actors, dancers, jugglers, magicians, puppeteers and sidewalk artists -- to obtain an annual permit if they plan to draw crowds along public sidewalks, parks, playgrounds and other pedestrian areas.

Maayingan and Kewayden, 19, recently received two tickets they said totaled $700 each because they were playing near Front Street without permits.

A police report states the Braukers received their second tickets June 23 after they continued playing their guitar within 50 feet of a permitted street performer, an ordinance violation.

The Braukers said Rodgers acknowledged one of their fundamental disagreements with the ticket during an informal hearing Tuesday: someone shouldn’t need a permit to perform in public if they’re not collecting money or disturbing peace and safety.

“If I would like to sing a song on a corner in Traverse City, I think I can,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “As long as I’m not disturbing the peace or creating some other sort of problem that would be against the law, I can sing.”

Rodgers also said the Braukers did not meet the ordinance’s definition of the term ‘performer’ and said the ordinance’s definition of ‘perform’ is “too broad and not well-defined.”

Rodgers’ decision relieved the Braukers, who expected to get “shot down” during their citation hearing.

“We kind of learned the court system isn’t always so bad,” Kewayden Brauker said.

Traverse City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said department officials will be “taking a close look” at how they enforce the street performer ordinance. He added city officials could appeal Rodgers’ decision.

City Attorney Lauren Trible-Laucht could not be reached for comment.



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