- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Facing constitutional challenge, Flagstaff, Ariz., City Council members late Tuesday moved to stop enforcing a ban on begging that’s been rule-of-law at the state level for about a century.

Flagstaff City Council voted to settle a suit that had been brought on behalf of a 77-year-old woman by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Los Angeles Times reported. The ACLU alleged the woman’s constitutional rights had been violated when police arrested her for asking an undercover officer for money to ride the bus.

The police officer arrested and charged her with panhandling, which the state bans and which the city has been aggressively enforcing for the last few years. In the past year alone, Flagstaff police have arrested about 135 people for loitering and panhandling charges, the Los Angeles Times said.

City Council members told the ACLU they’d stop enforcing the begging ban in return for a lawsuit dismissal. Specifically, city officials said they wouldn’t enforce the state statute on those who panhandled in a peaceful manner.

Panhandling has become a contentious issue in cities around the nation these past few years.

The ACLU sued Colorado Springs, Colo., authorities in March for its enforcement of an anti-begging rule. In response, the city put a halt to almost of all its panhandling enforcement.

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