Nathanial Abrams figured it was okay to play R&B music from his boombox in Lisa Link Peace Park on Sept. 16.
He was wrong. A Madison police officer wrote him a ticket for violating city ordinance 24.04, which states, "It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or other entity to use sound amplifying equipment on the State Street Mall at any time without first having obtained an electrical/amplification permit."
Abrams knew amplified music is prohibited on State Street. But he didn't think he was on State Street. After reading the law, he was even more confused. Here's what it says:
"'State Street Mall' shall be defined as the 100-800 blocks of State Street, including the plaza area on North Carroll Street where the 100 block of State Street meets West Mifflin Street."
Peace Park, which also abuts Gilman Street, is not specifically mentioned, so Abrams argues that it's not included: 'Either I'm in State Street or I'm in the park.' Facing a fine of $25 to $500 plus court costs, he plans to fight the ticket in court on Nov. 5.
A former homeless man, Abrams thinks police singled him out. He says he's heard students blaring music from apartments right on State Street without being ticketed.
Marci Paulsen, assistant city attorney, declined to comment on the boundaries of State Street. "That's why the matter is set for trial," she says. "That's the only issue that's going to come out at trial."