City to be Sued Over Panhandling Restrictions

Attorney Jeffrey Fogel is filing a lawsuit against the city on behalf of five local panhandlers, Tasha Kates writes in the Daily Progress. The city strengthened its law prohibiting panhandling last summer, prohibiting solicitation of people doing business with vendors or within 50 feet of the crossings. Notably, Mayor Dave Norris—a strong advocate for the homeless—is a defender of the law, believing it to be “modest.”

Fogel argues that the prohibition is a violation of their First Amendment rights, because the law is not content-neutral, but instead prevents people from saying specific things. Whatever you might think about panhandling, this seems like a legal matter worthy of the consideration of the courts.

8 thoughts on “City to be Sued Over Panhandling Restrictions”

  1. Why is it that these restrictions do not apply to the street musicians? It seems to me the 14th Amendment which guarantees the equal protection (application) of the law.

  2. Street musicians play and do not ask for money. People can choose to drop money into their instrument cases or not.
    People find panhandlers annoying at the very least, intimidating at worst.
    The present ordinance is reasonable, although were it up to me all panhandling would be banned.
    Reading some of the comments to the DP story its obvious there is a problem, and one that goes beyond people merely begging. The only positive thing the Haven has accomplished is that it has cleaned up the Downtown Library which used not to be a very pleasant or comfortable place to visit.
    I hope this suit gets thrown in the garbage.

  3. What happend to hands up not hands out?

    This is Free Enterprise versus free speech.

    Ok I am on furlough from work right now I think I will go downtown and exercise my right to beg.

    Can I panhandle in front of
    the Federal Courthouse Building?
    I don’t think so.

  4. Actually, when musicians draw attention to their jar or instrument case they are not asking for admiration. Also, I have walked by many a panhandler who did not ask me for any money. So I have noticed are so busy talking they are not watching their container and somebody could run up and snatch it without their knowing. I have begun to wonder if the panhandlers are really serious about their endeavor.
    “The present ordinance is reasonable, although were it up to me all panhandling would be banned.” That’s why is’s not up to you (equal application). You obviously have found a reason to discriminate and help make the lawyer’s case for him. Also, over the lawst fifteen or twenty years I have found many of the so-called musicians obnoxious, though not all.

  5. I don’t understand why the panhandling rule is not applied to the street musicians if they are collecting money. Last week a young woman was playing at the intersection close by Chaps with a sign–indicating she was trying to earn money to travel abroad–prominently displayed beside her open guitar case with several bills inside the case. How is that not panhandling?

  6. Could the city lease the Downtown Mall to the Downtown Association and then allow them to set panhandling regulations?

  7. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Our liberal bleeding heart city government supports soup kitchens, shelters,”havens” to hang out at, and this is what happens.
    These people who whine about the panhandling ordinance don’t know how lucky they are to be here now. Time was when they would all have been run out of town, or arrested under vagrancy or loitering ordinances and sent to the chain gang for hard labor.
    Giving money to panhandlers is like feeding the bears in a national park. Once the goodies stop coming they get nasty and aggressive.

  8. I understand the panhandling laws but everytime I think about it, I see the banks and Wall Street who got to put out their hats when they were down on their luck- not the same but not all that different.

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