Case No. 12-cv-3095
ACLU Case No. 2012-24
In reaction to reports that some panhandlers in downtown Colorado Springs were intimidating and harassing pedestrians, the City enacted an ordinance that establishes a “Downtown No-Solicitation Zone” that applies in a twelve-city-block area that includes a city park and the central business and shopping district of downtown Colorado Springs.
The expansive definition of “solicitation” in the new ordinance banishes a substantial amount of peaceful, non-intrusive, and constitutionally-protected expression. Nonprofit organizations are forbidden to ask passersby for donations. Street musicians violate the ordinance by playing music while silently soliciting tips with a hat or open guitar case. Needy persons violate the ordinance by silently holding a sign that reads: “please help.” Hawking newspapers violates the ordinance, which also forbids the Salvation Army to deploy the familiar bell-ringers in Santa costumes.
Shortly after the ordinance was enacted, the ACLU filed a complaint in federal district court seeking an order permanently enjoining enforcement of the ordinance. Plaintiffs include several non-profits that seek donations in the downtown area; a street musician who plays music for tips in the downtown area; a needy person who requests assistance from passersby in the downtown area; and two Colorado Springs residents who want to receive requests for assistance from poor persons, non-profits and street musicians while in downtown Colorado Springs.
Read the Colorado Springs Indpendent's 2/20/13 article about the city's dubious attempts to claim a legal victory
Sara J. Rich
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