SPLC Threatens to Sue Over Montgomery Panhandling Ordinance

“Blatantly Unconstitutional,” that’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center has to say about the Montgomery City Council’s ordinance criminalizing panhandling.  In a letter to Mayor Todd Strange, the SPLC says the ordinance unfairly punishes people who are living in poverty and violates the first amendment.

Senior Staff Attorney Micah West says there are moral and constitutional concerns.

“Courts across the country have held that it violates the first amendment to prohibit panhandling, to prohibit people from soliciting money on city streets,” West shared.

Mayor Strange says he wishes the council would’ve held off on the ordinance for a meeting or two.  He will delay implementation for at least 60 days to look into the concerns.

“We don’t want to be disrespectful to the homeless, but we also don’t want to get people hurt and we don’t want this to be an enterprise that people can make money out of,” Strange explained.

The SPLC says if the ordinance stands, they will likely sue in federal court.

To see the full letter from the SPLC click here.

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