LAS VEGAS (CN) – Darth Vader and Zorro have joined forces in a First Amendment battle with police and the Venetian Hotel-Casino on the Strip.
Brothers Jason and Sebastian Perez-Morciglio, who impersonate Zorro and Darth Vader on the Strip, say in a federal lawsuit that they were “kidnapped” by Venetian security officers, “strapped to a chair” and held in a small room for more than an hour in January before being kicked off the property.
They also say they were searched by metro police officers and handcuffed.
Although the two men perform on the Strip for tips, they say they were just standing on the sidewalk in front of the Venetian when they were arrested, and that Sebastian wasn’t wearing a costume, the lawsuit states.
The ACLU, which has joined the brothers in the legal battle, says the Venetian wrongly asserted that the public sidewalk was in fact private property.
“Certain sidewalks abutting the Strip and adjacent to certain Strip properties on which (the men perform) … have been repeatedly declared by the federal courts to be a public forum and the First Amendment fully applies to all expressive activity on those sidewalks.”
Aside from damages, the ACLU seeks a declaration that the hotel’s and metro’s policies of regulating public sidewalks is unlawful.
The lawsuit was filed by Margaret McLetchie.