Law Forces Constitutional Question

Staff report originally published in the Cincinnati Homeless Grapevine, a precursor to Streetvibes

Judge Jack Sherman, who placed a temporary injunction on the City’s new panhandling restrictions, said that there is a good chance that First Amendment rights would be violated.

The ACLU, Rev. Maurice McCrackin, and several panhandlers brought the lawsuit on behalf of all panhandlers and charities who would be subject to arrest.

Cincinnati’s new law was modeled after a panhandling ordinance in Berkeley, California, which was declared unconstitutional in May.

The law will go to another level, Judge Herman Weber, who will either confirm or cancel the injunction. If the new law is enforced, the Coalition will educate the homeless of their legal rights, provide free legal representation for those who may be arrested, and for charities who would be banned.

The media reacted to the injunction by playing on fears instead of facts. Stories featuring mug shots of panhandlers were used to appeal to people’s prejudice to support the crackdown.

The Coalition continues to stress that the poor and homeless should not be used as a scapegoat for society’s problems.