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Should Panhandling Be Illegal In Grand Rapids? [Poll]

Ed Yourdon, Flickr

Michigan law makes panhandling in public places illegal.  On Friday, a federal judge ruled Michigan’s law banning panhandling in public is unconstitutional.

The ruling comes from a lawsuit filed by two men who were arrested for panhandling in Grand Rapids in 2011.

Should panhandling in Grand Rapids be illegal?

WZZM has more on Friday’s ruling:

A federal judge in Grand Rapids says a Michigan law banning panhandling in public places “on its face” violates the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker made his ruling Friday in a civil suit by two Grand Rapids men arrested in 2011 for begging.

James Speet and Ernest Sims were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU says the city enforced the law 399 times between Jan. 1, 2008 and May 24, 2011.

There are times when panhandlers can make those being asked for money uncomfortable.  Being approached while walking alone downtown on an empty street can even make one feel unsafe, but panhandlers shouldn’t be treated differently than anyone else.

Street vendors, petition gatherers, and panhandlers should all have the same right to ask a question on the street.  If panhandlers aren’t trespassing or blocking a walkway, they should be allowed to ask for money.

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