Indianapolis Wants To Ban Panhandling

By Ryan Lower - 21Alive
By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

August 17, 2013 Updated Aug 17, 2013 at 11:46 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS (21Alive) – Banning panhandling—is it a violation of first amendment rights?

A group of pandhandlers say an effort to ban them from downtown Indianapolis does, and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing on their behalf.

Mayor Greg Ballard has asked the City-County Council to ban oral requests for money in a square-mile area, and passive solicitations across much of the city.

ACLU legal director Ken Falk says panhandling is no different than someone asking for donations to fight cancer.

“The reality is, as most people know who work and live downtown, the panhandlers downtown are passive. They will sit on the corner or stand on the street or sidewalks with signs or cups. The activity these people are engaging in that is now being prohibited by the city is legal and protected by the first amendment,” said Ken Falk, ACLU Legal Director.

Spokesman Marc Lotter says the ACLU challenged the existing ordinance in court and lost.

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