ACLU of Florida Statement on Pensacola Panhandling Ordinance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 11, 2017
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, (786) 363-2737
MIAMI, FL – The Pensacola city council is expected to give final approval tonight for an anti-panhandling ordinance which would prohibit individuals from asking for donations in much of downtown Pensacola. Responding to the expected vote, ACLU of Florida staff attorney Jacqueline Azis stated:
“We have again and again warned the city council that this law is a constitutionally suspect attack on the rights of the community’s neediest members. The courts have repeatedly spoken on this issue when it has been tried elsewhere: cities cannot ban certain kinds of speech just because hearing it makes some people uncomfortable.
“If the city council is concerned about homelessness in downtown Pensacola, they should focus on addressing the underlying causes of the problem, not attacking the rights of those who are living in homelessness. This ordinance doesn’t address the problem, treats the community’s most vulnerable like a criminal nuisance, and leaves the city exposed to litigation.”