April 12, 2018
Homeless advocates have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Sacramento, alleging that a panhandling ordinance adopted in November violates the free speech rights of citizens asking for handouts.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court late Tuesday on behalf of well-known homeless activist James Lee “Faygo” Clark, seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against enforcing the ordinance, which bans soliciting within 30 feet of ATMs or banks, at driveway entrances to businesses or near bus stops.
The suit was filed on behalf of Clark and the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Legal Services of Northern California.
The 12-page complaint calls the ordinance a clear violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and one that “is taking away one of the few legal and safe means for homeless individuals to obtain money for necessities.”
“The ordinance effectively bans a wide range of protected speech in large swaths of the city,” the suit says. “In addition, although it is styled as an ‘aggressive and intrusive solicitation’ ordinance, the law criminalizes purely passive activity such as sitting peacefully on the sidewalk with a sign or a donation cup.”
Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC)