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Federal Magistrate Rules Against Shreveport in Rock Concert Cancellation

July 23, 1993

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) _ The city must allow a concert by a rock group called Society of the Damned and reimburse the band what it spent fighting the city’s ban in court, a magistrate ruled.

Federal Magistrate Roy Payne ruled Thursday that Shreveport violated the band’s free-speech rights by canceling a show last year at a local park.

″We felt that because a lot of our songs are about standing your ground, we would be hypocritical to just walk away from this,″ said Billy Haskins, 27, lead singer of the alternative rock band.

The Shreveport Parks and Recreation department pulled the plug on the show when the band distributed fliers describing it as a ″free speech rally.″ Assistant City Attorney Lydia Rhodes argued the city wasn’t obligated to allow a rally, citing unwritten policy against sponsoring ″political″ events.

The band never intended to stage an open free-speech rally, but used the term in its flier to refer to the political content of its music, argued band attorney Steve Scheckman of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Payne said the city couldn’t cancel on political grounds when it had no guidelines defining what is considered political. He also said the city failed to show how the concert would cause any public harm or disruption.

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