Michigan city Royal Oak can fight neighborhood blight all it wants by enforcing small code violations like those against broken windows and unkempt lawns, but leave the panhandlers out of it, says the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). The city had been trying to protect its downtown areas from their own property blight by enforcing an ordinance banning “peaceful panhandling on sidewalks,” but the ACLU insists that “begging is protected free speech under the First Amendment.” An attorney for the group compares asking for charity, even when creating a nuisance while doing so, is no different than asking for the time of day.
Many homeowners and property owners want to discourage panhandling – peaceful and otherwise – because it is believed to depress property values. Do you think that this is a responsible route for the city to take, or should they do as the ACLU is demanding and stop enforcing this ordinance?
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