[Hpn] PANHANDLERS welcome 30 day "truce" with police in Chicago IL USA (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Fri, 16 Nov 2001 16:57:10 -0800


http://chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0111010146nov01.story?coll=chi%2Dnewslo cal%2Dhed FWD Chicago Tribune - November 1, 2001 [ USA ] PANHANDLERS WELCOME TRUCE POLICE WON'T JAIL THEM FOR 30 DAYS AS LAW IS STUDIED By Shia Kapos and Ed Fanselow Tribune staff reporters In his 22 years of panhandling on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, Robert Hardison has been arrested plenty of times. Often unfairly, he says. "Yeah, I hustle people, but I don't cuss or fuss or fight. I'm not trying to bother anybody, just trying to make a living," he said Wednesday while drumming on an overturned bucket. Hardison welcomed the City of Chicago's decision to suspend arrests of non-aggressive panhandlers for 30 days while its lawyers examine its panhandling statute. The decision came in the wake of a lawsuit filed by three Chicago panhandlers who contend the city violated their rights to free speech and lawful arrest. The city's disorderly conduct provision allows police to cite people on public streets for drunkenness, lewdness and panhandling. Violators are subject to arrest and fines of as much as $500, though some of the city's homeless say they have come away with only a ticket. Mark Weinberg, the attorney representing the three panhandlers, said the statute is flawed because it does not distinguish between asking for money and aggressive panhandling. "You can ask for directions, you can ask for the time of day, but the moment you ask for a quarter, the city thinks they have a right to arrest you and throw you in jail," said Weinberg. He also said panhandlers are being unlawfully arrested. "No one ever gets convicted," he said, adding the city never intends to prosecute a panhandler in court. Weinberg said those arrested usually are released after 8 to 24 hours in jail and told not to return for court hearings. But the city contends the panhandlers are told to show up for court but fail to do so. The city is examining whether its statute violates the 1st Amendment right to free speech, but it emphasizes that some panhandlers go beyond asking for money. "The times people have been cited, they weren't simply asking for spare change, said city's Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle, adding, "Other things were going on, like blocking the public way or grabbing a person to get their attention." She said the city is examining the usefulness of the ordinance. "There are a number of rules already in place for what people can and can't do on the public way," she said. The Police Department does not expect any changes in panhandling habits while the statute is under review. "[Officers] have been told there is a temporary stay on the arrests of unaggressive panhandlers for the next 30 days," said police spokesman Pat Camden. Other ordinances can address aggressive panhandling, he added. Chicago's homeless worry they will be arrested--statute or no statute. "No matter if you're quiet as a mouse, some [police officers] will come up and mess with you," said John Hyde, a former teacher who has been homeless for about 10 years. Many cities have ordinances to control panhandling, but none has stopped it. Instead of arresting panhandlers, said John Donahue, executive director of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the city should "talk about the crisis of homelessness." Copyright 2001, Chicago Tribune END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************