Those in favor and against a proposal which creates a complete ban on panhandling in downtown Indianapolis are speaking out.
Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl says they support the proposal because over the last two years, Indianapolis has lost ten big conventions which could have brought more than $6 million to the local economy.
He says the key reason given after the decisions to leave were made was panhandling in the downtown Indianapolis area. Gahl adds that Indianapolis is in danger of losing 15 more conventions for the same reason.
“If we lose these conventions to another city that has a similar ordinance we’re looking at 1,500 jobs that could go way, tourism related jobs,” Gahl says.
The proposal would create a “No Solicitation Zone” which would ban panhandling of any kind in downtown Indianapolis.
However, Ken Falk, Legal Director for the ACLU of Indiana, says panhandling has been recognized as protected by the First Amendment. Falk says he is not aware of any kind of complete ban like this and, if the ban was passed, the ACLU would challenge it if contacted.
“I doubt it would be upheld as constitutional because it certianly is not narrowly tailored and does not leave open other areas where someone could go and do this,” Falk says.
The revised proposal is expected to be introduced to the City-County Council on Monday. It would be heard by the council‘s Rules and Public Policy Committee which does not meet again until late June.