October 9, 2013 |
A war is being waged over panhandling, as cities and states pass tighter and tighter anti-solicitation laws to control transients and deal with chronic homelessness. A 2011 report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that more than 100 cities had some kind of restriction on panhandling; 16 of those were in California. Along with the bans on begging have come fierce constitutional challenges. Last week, a federal judge in Arizona was the latest to weigh in, ruling that the state's law making it a crime to beg for money or food was an infringement of the constitutional right to free speech.
October 7, 2013 |
An Arizona law that makes it a crime to beg for money or food in public is unconstitutional, a federal judge has ruled. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona against the city of Flagstaff, which has drawn national attention for its aggressive stance on panhandling by jailing some violators. Last month, the city changed course after the ACLU sued on behalf of a 77-year-old woman who had been arrested when she asked an undercover police officer for bus fare.
September 24, 2013 |
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - An Arizona city that led the nation in its aggressive stance on panhandling reversed course Tuesday night, setting in motion the apparent demise of a century-old state law that criminalized begging. The Flagstaff City Council voted to settle a lawsuit launched this summer by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona on behalf of a 77-year-old woman who had been arrested after asking an undercover police officer for bus fare. The ACLU argued that the state law and Flagstaff's enforcement of it were unconstitutional.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 14, 2013 |
Not too long ago, I was walking along the strip in Venice and saw a man holding a cardboard sign. For 10 bucks, the sign said, you could kick the guy in the crotch. I had to ask: "How's business?" "Slow, bro," he said, as if he was trying to unload Popsicles in the dead of winter. Ah, Venice - where just about everything is for sale. Along Ocean Front Walk, you can buy beach stuff, of course - bodyboards decorated with dolphins, sunscreen jacked up to the price of shiraz.
July 27, 2013 |
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Matt Evans realized Flagstaff's efforts to criminalize panhandling had reached new heights when a police officer intercepted him as he attempted to hand a $10 bill to a homeless family in a supermarket parking lot. "These people are breaking the law," Evans said the officer told him. She said that giving the money would be akin to facilitating a crime. Stunned, the 34-year-old PhD candidate looked again at the homeless couple with two young children in tow. "I have every right to give anyone I want money," Evans told the officer.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 21, 2013 |
The killing of a woman in the heart of Hollywood's tourists district is bringing new calls for a crackdown against aggressive panhandlers. On Tuesday at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, a 23-year-old woman collapsed after being fatally stabbed across the street. Police arrested a transient who had allegedly demanded $1 from her after she took his photo. The death of Christine Calderon left the Hollywood tourist district stunned and on Friday prompted Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti to call for increased patrols, including by horse-mounted units.