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Arkansas man joins lawsuit regarding panhandling

January 16, 2018

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A central Arkansas man who wants to defend giving to panhandlers has joined a lawsuit that states a city ordinance regarding panhandling is unconstitutional.

The second amended complaint filed last week added Todd Reid as a plaintiff. Reid joins panhandler Michael Rodgers in the federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas to permanently stop Hot Springs from enforcing the ordinance, the Sentinel-Record reported .

The complaint said Reid wants to give to panhandlers from a vehicle, which is banned under the ordinance adopted by the city last month. The city said such transactions endanger pedestrians and motorists on public rights of way.

″(Reid) has given to panhandlers while an occupant in a vehicle in operation on the public streets of the city of Hot Springs,” the complaint stated. “He wishes to continue to do so; however, predictably, the threat of citation and criminal liability under Ordinance 17-46 will chill his willingness to exercise his right.”

Hot Springs has suspended enforcement until the court rules on the ordinance’s constitutionality. Meanwhile, police have been issuing verbal warnings to panhandlers and motorists, as well as distributing copies of the ordinance in an effort to educate the public.

The first amended complaint filed last month resumed the lawsuit after it was on hold following the city’s August repeal of the September 2016 ordinance that banned the solicitation of motorists on public rights of way. The regulation was created in response to an increased presence of panhandlers at busy intersections following the dismissal of a 2015 conviction given to Rodgers for violating a state loitering statute.

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Information from: The Sentinel-Record, http://www.hotsr.com

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