FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – The City of Fort Collins is facing a lawsuit over panhandling. The American Civil Liberties Union claims the city’s new ordinance, which limits where people can ask for money, is illegal.
The ACLU’s Colorado chapter said it does not object to targeted ordinances to enforce issues. The organization claims in this case Fort Collins police have gone too far by turning polite pleas for help into a crime.
“I think for one, that people who are in need should be able to ask for help,” said Fort Collins resident Nancy York.
York, 76, joined the class action lawsuit which was filed in federal district court on Tuesday. The lawsuit claims the new ordinance violates free speech rights.
York wants city leaders to get rid of the ordinance that makes it illegal for people to ask her for money because she falls into what’s defined as an “at risk” group of people over the age of 60.
“I’ve never been abused in any way or rudely solicited. If anything, I find that the people I identify as homeless are even overly polite,” said York.
Not everyone has a problem with the ordinance, even those who do ask for money.
“My sign, first of all, doesn’t say anything about needing help,” said David Kulick.
Kulick said he chose to opt out of the lawsuit. He said as long as people play by the rules he sees no problem with the way police enforce the city’s anti-panhandling rules.
“I don’t talk to people, therefore I am not being aggressive or rude or anything like that,” said Kulick.
The City of Fort Collins is reviewing the lawsuit and will not comment until they’ve evaluated all of the claims.
The Fort Collins Police Department is also waiting to comment on the ACLU’s lawsuit.
The ACLU is hoping for an injunction, stopping enforcement of all the current rules as the lawsuit moves forward.
The non-profit Greenpeace is also names as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, saying the law keeps their street canvassers from working.