UPDATE: On September 24, 2018 a U.S. District Court struck down an anti-panhandling ordinance in Rogers, Arkansas on the grounds that the restrictions unconstitutionally infringe on the right to freedom of speech.

On June 28, 2017 the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed two lawsuits in federal district court challenging anti-panhandling ordinances in Fort Smith, Hot Springs and Rogers on the basis that they violate the First Amendment by criminalizing people for exercising their right to free speech. The ACLU asked the court to invalidate and block enforcement of the ordinances, which have caused their clients to be arrested, jailed and prosecuted for peacefully asking for help. 

Hot Springs Ordinance 6168 makes it a crime to solicit anything from the occupant of a vehicle. Fort Smith Section 6-17 severely restricts panhandling within the city limits, while Section 18-72 prohibits begging in all parks. Rogers requires a permit before any begging is allowed and the police chief has unlimited discretion to approve or deny the permit. The suits were filed on behalf of two plaintiffs, Glynn Dilbeck and Michael Andrew Rodgers, who have been affected by the ordinances.

In 2016, the ACLU of Arkansas successfully challenged a state law making it a crime to ask for money, food or other charity, any time and any place, on the grounds that it violated the right to free speech.

 

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