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September 14, 2017

ACLU had sued city over ordinance which banned asking for donations in downtown

PENSACOLA, FL – The Pensacola City Council has voted to repeal an ordinance passed in April which would have prohibited individuals from asking for donations in much of downtown Pensacola following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging the ordinance.

The ACLU of Florida filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance prior to its going into effect, arguing that the law violates the free speech and due process rights of those impacted by the law.

Responding to the city council’s decision, ACLU of Florida staff attorney Jacqueline Azis stated:

“We warned the city that we would sue if they attempted to implement this unconstitutional ordinance, they did it anyway, we sued – and now, thankfully, they’re backing down.

“Cities shouldn’t use law enforcement as a tool to address homelessness and poverty, and courts across the country have made clear that they can’t ban certain kinds of speech, like panhandling, simply because they might make some people uncomfortable. 

“We had worked to avoid litigation in this case, and now that this ordinance no longer poses a threat to the people of Pensacola, we will immediately work to end that case.

“We are glad that the city council has walked back this wrong-headed ordinance, and we hope that this serves as an object lesson for other Florida cities about the fact that the Constitution protects everyone – including those who are least fortunate in our communities.”

Following the city council’s decision, the ACLU of Florida plans to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. [[ACCURATE?]] More information about the lawsuit filed in May is available here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/press-releases/aclu-files-lawsuit-challenging-pensacola-panhandling-ordinance

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