ACLU Asks 69 Ohio Cities To Repeal Panhandling Restrictions

A sign on a backpack reads, "Homeless, grateful for any help."
[Small Town Big World / Shutterstock]
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The ACLU of Ohio is taking aim at laws against panhandling in dozens of cities across the state, as part of a nationwide effort coordinated with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The campaign says it sent letters to 69 cities in the state asking them to repeal the ordinances.  

“The First Amendment protects requests for charity in public places,” the letters read in part. “The government’s authority to regulate such speech is exceedingly limited.”

Many of the cities targeted in the letter-writing campaign are in Northeast Ohio. Euclid bans “aggressive” panhandling that includes using profanity while asking for money. Woodmere prohibits “vagrants” from begging, loitering, or “strolling about.”

Joseph Mead, an attorney working with the ACLU, said litigation is a possibility.

“I don’t know every particular city, how aggressive they’re being, or whether they even have many panhandlers in the city,” he said. “But they need to get rid of these laws.”

Cleveland and Akron dropped anti-panhandling laws after ACLU suits.

The campaign is sending letters to cities in 12 states.

Read an example letter below. Mobile users can read here.

 

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the effort was coordinated with the National Coalition for the Homeless. While the coalition is involved, the coordinating agency is the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

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