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Boulder Considering Ban On Verbal Panhandling

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BOULDER, COLO. (CBS4) – The Boulder City Council is considering a new rule that would ban people from verbally panhandling.

Supporters say it’s a way to stop panhandlers from harassing people.

Boulder resident Vennie Thompson supports city’s efforts to limit panhandling.

“You’re getting ambushed, I always hated that. I would never give anybody any money who ambushed me,” said Thompson.

The city says it is trying to stop panhandling in places where people would have their wallet out or feel trapped, such as when using the ATM, pumping gas or leaving a bank.

“What the staff proposal is trying to do is strike a balance,” said city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley.

Huntley says the rule would only ban verbal requests for money within 20 feet of certain places.

“There does become an uncomfortable issue, if somebody asks you for money, particularly if they keep asking and are more insistent about it,” said Huntley.

Some advocates for the poor and homeless say panhandling is protected free speech.

“We’re treating homeless people and transient people and poor people as if they don’t have rights like the rest of us,” said Barry Satlow, chair of the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The vote goes before City Council Tuesday night. There’s a strong chance it will be voted through so it can go directly to a public hearing and a second and final vote.

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