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Saugatuck — A musician who spent 48 hours in jail for refusing to stop playing his guitar in public is suing a west Michigan city.

The American Civil Liberties Union is taking the case of Gabe Novak and viola player Christopher Waechter. The college students are accusing Saugatuck of violating their free speech rights.

Novak was arrested in June when a police officer told him he couldn’t play guitar on the sidewalk without a permit. Waechter says he was told to stop playing his viola in July.

Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier says the lawsuit is “frivolous.” He tells The Grand Rapids Press that the musicians could have played in a park with no problem.

Harrier says business owners in the popular summer town don’t want sidewalk performers driving away customers.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Grand Rapids federal court.

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