ACLU Sends Letters to 84 Communities Asking For Change - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

ACLU Sends Letters to 84 Communities Asking For Change

It's all part of an effort to remove begging ordinances that the ACLU say are unconstitutional.

Today, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham and Shiawasee counties among several communities around Michigan that received a letter asking for change.

Our Nick Perreault learned talked to the city of Lansing whose also listed, they say it's an ordinance they don't enforce.

"We have always fought for the rights of the poor and criminalizing begging is criminalizing poverty," said ACLU of Michigan Field Organizer Merissa Kovach.

So today the ACLU released letters to 84 communities including Lansing, asking them to remove their panhandling ordinances or local laws making it illegal to beg within city limits.

The ACLU argues the panhandling laws are similar to a state law ruled unconstitutional back in August.

"And we're willing to work with any city across the state, including Lansing to help become compliant with this longstanding federal law."

Lansing's ordinance currently reads like this, "No person shall beg in public place or go door to door requesting donations for personal gain."

While city attorney Janene McIntyre says yes it's on the books, they don't enforce it and aren't violating first amendment rights.

"It would really not be any impact to the city of Lansing for we had not been enforcing that ordinance," Janene McIntyre said.

And City Attorney Janene McIntyre says to remove it off the books, they'd come in the way of a repeal and vote from city council, something she's says could be likely.

It's a move that the ACLU hopes 84 communities will make and soon.

"We do hope that they change that they do the right thing, there is really no reason to have an unconstitutional law on their books."

 A change that will allow those on the street to continue to do what they can to survive.

 The ACLU asked those communities to reply to their request with what they plan to do within 30 days.


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