ACLU seeks halt to city's panhandling ordinance

ROYAL OAK (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has asked a Detroit suburb to stop enforcing what it calls an unconstitutional ordinance that punishes peaceful panhandling on public sidewalks.

ACLU of Michigan staff attorney Dan Korobkin says the city of Royal Oak bars individuals from peacefully asking for money on all public streets and sidewalks. He says Royal Oak police have made at least 15 arrests for begging over the past two years.

Korobkin says cities can enforce narrowly defined laws against aggressive and threatening panhandling, but state and federal courts says panhandling is protected free speech and have struck down similar ordinances in New York, California, Massachusetts and Florida.

City Attorney David Gillam told The Daily Tribune he received the ACLU's letter last Thursday and will review its request.

Published: Mon, Jan 17, 2011