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Indianapolis And ACLU Reach Agreement On Panhandling

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Photo: flickr (James Jordon)

The agreement prohibits panhandling in streets but not on sidewalks.

The City of Indianapolis and the American Civil Liberties Union have agreed to parameters for panhandling in downtown Indianapolis.

The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the city last summer on behalf of a group of panhandlers who were ticketed for violating a city ordinance.

Ken Falk, the Legal Director for the ACLU of Indiana, says the ordinance doesn’t apply to people who solicit on sidewalks, and punishing people for doing so violates the First Amendment.

“Panhandling is seeking contributions from someone  and courts have indicated that’s protected by the first amendment,” Falk said. “The same way someone has the right to come up to you and ask you to contribute to a charity, they have the right to come up and ask you to contribute to them.”

The agreed judgment will prohibit panhandling in streets or next to people’s cars, but allows people to ask for money on sidewalks as long as solicitors don’t block people’s walkways.

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