JOPLIN, Mo. – The American Civil Liberties Union is accusing a city in southwest Missouri of having a panhandling ordinance that interferes with free speech.
The Joplin Globe reports that the ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit against Joplin Thursday on behalf of Christopher Snyder, a homeless man.
The Joplin City Council approved an ordinance change in February prohibiting panhandling within 150 feet (46 meters) of intersections on busy streets.
The lawsuit says Snyder was issued a warning shortly after the change took effect. Snyder and his wife left Joplin out of fear of being arrested, despite applying to a local housing program.
Missouri ACLU Director Tony Rothert says Joplin’s code unlawfully restricts residents’ free speech rights.
City Attorney Peter Edwards declined to comment, saying city officials haven’t been notified of the lawsuit.
Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com