They say you can’t fight city hall and win, but that’s not true. A poet who came to Palm Springs to entertain the community proved it’s possible. She sued the city and is now $30,000 richer.
Amy Marschak told us she is looking forward to coming back and performing here in Palm Springs and, now that the case is settled, she hopes the city has learned it’s lesson. "It was just somebody in this position of power telling you you can’t do something you love."
For Amy Marschak, performing on the streets is her passion.
"Being an improv poet for me has always been a really positive experience. When I’m in Boulder, people stop me and say oh I love you. People would always me and it was all this really positive stuff…which it was in Palm Springs at first."
That’s until police gave her a ticket for being on the sidewalk two years ago.
"It was my first extremely negative experience with that and to have someone not only give you a ticket but also a misdemeanor ticket, I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know what to do."
According to Amy’s lawyer, police were enforcing the sit and lie ordinance.
"It is illegal to sit or lie in certain areas downtown and it’s also illegal to obstruct a public sidewalk."
However, Amy claims she was in the right.
"I remember I kept thinking, this doesn’t make any sense because I’m not blocking the sidewalk."
The city recognized that the citation was a violation of her first amendment right and as Palm Spring City Attorney Edward Kotkin told us,the city has taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
"Sometimes the best proof in what the city is doing is looking at what is happening in the community. You haven’t seen something like this happen since 2015."
Nonetheless, despite the ruling and the $30,000 settlement, the city is not going to change it’s rules. Each police officer will use their judgment to determine if a street performer is violating any law and act accordingly.
After all is said and done, Amy says this is a win in her book– not because of the money, but because she is confident the city understand the importance of the first amendment and believes things will be different now.
"When you go to Palm Springs now, you’ll be able to hear more music. See magic shows maybe. It’ll enliven the community, it will bring art back into the streets."