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Battle Creek passes ordinance restricting panhandling, loitering

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — An ordinance that would regulate panhandling in Battle Creek was passed by city commissioners in a 5-3 vote Tuesday evening.

The ordinance prohibits any person from asking for money near intersections, building entrances, or from anybody waiting in line.

Residents and business owners brought their concerns to the city commission that “aggressive panhandling” was detrimental to public safety. The police chief said in the ordinance summary that his officers needs the tools the ordinance offers to respond to aggravated solicitors.

Fines may be issued to anybody violating the ordinance.

In 2013, begging was constitutionally protected by a federal court of appeals judge after a lawsuit was filed against Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the City of Grand Rapids.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to Battle Creek officials in July warning that the anti-panhandling law would suggest that the city “doesn’t want poor people.” The ACLU also claimed the ordinance would violate First Amendment rights to beg in public places.

The city also passed an ordinance in a 5-3 vote that regulates loitering near certain retail establishments.

The full panhandling ordinance can be read on the City of Battle Creek website.

 

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