CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The city of Charlottesville has been ordered to halt the enforcement of an ordinance that prohibits panhandling on parts of the city’s Downtown Mall.
The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/1zSGfbN) reports a federal judge Thursday ruled the ordinance violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.
An attorney for a group of homeless people had argued the ordinance targeted a “certain class of people.” It barred panhandling within 50 feet of either of two streets that cross the Downtown Mall, but it didn’t stop someone for soliciting signatures for a political petition.
The city argued panhandling near the crossings was a public safety hazard, and people are free to ask for donations elsewhere on the pedestrian mall.
But U.S. District Judge Norman Moon says the ordinance reflected a focus on the panhandlers.