Ban on stopping on Las Vegas Strip bridges targets people with disabilities, lawsuit alleges

February 19, 2024 7:19 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Rio Yamat, Associated Press
February 19, 2024 7:19 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A woman who uses a wheelchair due to a spinal injury has accused the county that includes Las Vegas of unfairly targeting people with disabilities under its new ban on standing or stopping while crossing pedestrian bridges on the Strip, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.

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“Making criminals out of ordinary people who stop for even a few moments, like our client who has to stop periodically because she uses a manual wheelchair, is reckless,” said Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

The ACLU’s legal challenge comes one month after the ordinance took effect in Clark County. The measure makes it a misdemeanor to stop, stand or engage in activity “that causes another person to stop” on Strip pedestrian bridges. That also includes up to 20 feet (6 meters) surrounding connected stairs, elevators and escalators.

Violators of the ordinance could face up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

The ban doesn’t include standing or stopping if a person is waiting to use an elevator, stairway or escalator, but it doesn’t exempt people who stop due to a disability.

According to the lawsuit, Lisa McAllister, who can’t stand or walk due to a spinal injury, often stops unexpectedly either because her arms are tired, her wheelchair is malfunctioning or her path is blocked by other people.

Because of that, the lawsuit says, the ordinance “has effectively denied” McAllister and other people with disabilities the use of pedestrian bridges on the Strip because they cannot always cross without stopping. It also says that the ordinance has deterred McAllister, a Las Vegas resident, from returning to the Strip.

Visitors often stop on pedestrian bridges in the famed tourist corridor to take photos amid the glittery casino lights or to watch street performers.

The ACLU of Nevada is asking a judge to strike down the ordinance, which it says violates not only the rights of people with disabilities but also rights protected by the First Amendment, including protesting or performing on the street.

“Clark County has banned activities that receive the highest protections under the First Amendment,” the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for the county said Friday that the county doesn’t comment on pending litigation. But in a statement last month, the county said that the ordinance isn’t meant to target street performers or people who stop to take pictures, but rather to increase public safety by ensuring a continuous flow of pedestrian traffic across the bridges.

The measure “will help to ensure our world-class tourism destination remains a safe place for people to visit and transverse,” the statement said.