If it is, then why do I see the same people day after day standing in the same intersections with paper cups shaking down citizens at stop lights? Are the cops afraid of these folks for some reason? I was under the impression that we had taxpayer-funded, city-sponsored homeless shelters where the downtrodden could be fed and bedded as often as they showed up at the door. Why do we have to put up with this sort of eyesore? If I were to call the police each time I saw a panhandler working his corner, would I get any reaction at all?
Don’t know what town, or country, you live in. In the U.S., asking for money is constitutionally protect activiity.
Chicago used to have a strong anti-panhandling law, but it was repealed in 2002 in response to a lawsuit that was filed in 2001. Several federal courts have ruled that a complete ban on panhandling is unconstitutional, although reasonable regulations may be allowed.
So in 2004 Chicago passed a new law banning “aggressive panhandling.” This law bans panhandling within 10 feet of a bus stop, bank, ATM, or currency exchange or in a public transportation vehicle, gas station, or outdoor cafe. The current ordinance also bans panhandling in a method that “a reasonable person would find intimidating” and gives a list of examples including touching, blocking the victim’s path, following the victim, using abusive language, or panhandling in groups.
See Municipal Code Section 8-4-025.
In May 2012, the same attorney who filed the earlier lawsuit filed another one against the city claiming that police were harassing panhandlers along North Michigan Avenue by falsely telling them panhandling was not allowed there.
[aside] … and some lawyers are different from panhandlers, just how? … [/aside]
I kind of doubt that this particular lawyer is in it for the money; somehow it seems unlikely that even a large group of panhandlers could scrape together enough money for lawyer’s fees. But who knows?
I don’t see what’s objectionable about the lawyer’s conduct in bringing an action to uphold someone’s constitutional rights. Obviously, I don’t know how strong the evidence was, but if police were lying to panhandlers, then a court action would seem appropriate.
–I live in Chicago - which is why I felt (apparently erroneously) that I could pose such a question on this board without specifying which town I was speaking of.
–Indeed it is and my question had little to do with the action of asking for money and everything to do with where said asking takes place. A municipality should have some control over what pedestrian activity takes place in the middle of traffic on its highways and byways. Owning a firearm is a constitutionally protected activity in the U.S. as well, but I’m pretty sure the metropolitan government of my city wouldn’t extend that right to me if I chose to have target practice in the intersection of Lincoln and Peterson.
–Thanks Alley. I noticed the Code doesn’t prohibit panhandlers from endangering themselves and others by carrying out their activity between lanes of traffic on busy city streets. I wonder what they’d say if anyone decided to jump rope or play jacks in the same locus.
I’m sorry if I misunderstood your question. The title of your post is “Isn’t panhandling illegal in this town?” Some people, (perhaps including Chicago police) think it can be outright banned. That’s where I was coming from.
As to reasonable restrictions, such as “stay out of the road,” I agree with you that this should, and could, be prohibited. Whether Chicago has a law that would cover that, I’ll leave to others.
That would probably be covered by 9-60-080 Walking along roadways.