Anger erupted across Philadelphia Wednesday after news spread that a City Councilman proposed a bill that would require nightclub, bar and restaurant owners to give the names, addresses and phone numbers of musicians performing at their venues to police. The bill, introduced by Councilmember Mark Squilla, would apparently give police the power to determine if bands, rappers and DJs can perform at venues that hold 50 or more people, the BillyPenn.com of Philadelphia reported.
In determining whether to allow a show to occur, police would factor in crime, noise and parking, among other considerations, Billy Penn reported. Police would be able to request the information from the club owners and be able to review past performances to look at whether any there were any public safety issues at the time.
Squilla later described the bill not as a “registry,” as it was first described by BillyPenn.com, but rather as a collection of information music venues should have should something arise. He also said it was not meant to limit artistic expression, but rather to keep the public safe and close a loophole that allowed some venues livestream performances off-site unlicensed.
Even though Squilla tried to qualify his statements, the damage was already done. A Change.com petition was created, saying the bill would have a chilling effect on not only the musicians within Philadelphia but the ones who come from out of town to perform in the city. By Thursday morning, the petition to call on the city council to reject the bill was just about 270 signatures short of 10,000.
.@CMMarkSquilla as a member of your district and a musician, your proposal, bill 160016, is offensive, absurd and a threat to my profession.
— josh martin (@joshtwy) January 27, 2016
Some in Philadelphia were not so critical. Francis Healy, a legal adviser to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, told Philly.com that police only want advances notice in case they need to respond to a concert, and that the bill was misinterpreted.
Alfred James Band and all other supporters of my music and Philadelphia music, this bill undermines our art and... https://t.co/pz5k7huZCy
— Garrick Vaughan (@GarrickVaughan) January 28, 2016
A spokesperson for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the mayor will work with the community to make any changes to the bill that would make it more clear. Philadelphia Councilmember David Oh, however, said on Twitter he opposes the bill and that its language doesn’t reflect its intent.
— David Oh (@DavidOhPhilly) January 28, 2016