LITTLE ROCK – The ACLU of Arkansas issued the following statement regarding a ruling by U.S. District Judge Roy Wilson closing the Rodgers v. Bryant case that challenged state-level panhandling restrictions and making the preliminary injunction blocking the law permanent.

“We are grateful that all Arkansans’ freedom of speech was protected with this ruling,” said ACLU of Arkansas legal director and interim executive director Holly Dickson, “The state and some cities have tried differing ways to stop panhandling but it is clearly protected speech and criminalizing the effects of poverty takes us all in the wrong direction. Some communities such as Hot Springs, Fayetteville and Little Rock have taken positive steps to finding solutions to address the underlying causes of poverty and the needs of the community. We hope to see more of this positive action especially in light of the pandemic.”