COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a panhandling ban in Colorado Springs.
A hearing is set for a week from Thursday in Denver Federal Court in which the ACLU is asking for an injunction against the city of Colorado Springs as life on the streets for beggars is getting tougher.
The city council passed a law that bans panhandling in a 12-block radius downtown after there were a lot of complaints.
“When I’m down here shopping it kind of is bothersome to have people constantly asking for money,” a Colorado Springs resident said.
The ACLU has gone to federal court to try to block the ban which it claims is too broad.
“It prohibits Salvation Army Santa Clauses from ringing bells (and) soliciting contributions,” ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein said. “It prohibits our client Greenpeace from doing its outreach and fundraising on the sidewalks.”
But Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher says there other places for charities to go.
“The Salvation Army has 23 locations in the city and 22 of those are on private property, grocery stores, in shopping malls, in areas where this ban would not apply,” Melcher said.
The effort to stop panhandling in downtown is written to be neutral, but opponents feel it’s written too generally instead of targeting those intended.
“(Those) being very intrusive, intimidating, threatening and menacing in a way that frightens shoppers,” Silverstein said.
In Denver, aggressive panhandling is banned, and recently overnight camping was banned as well.
The ban in Colorado Springs was supposed to begin this week, but now has been delayed due to the court action.