- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Colorado Springs is considering changes to its panhandling ordinances after a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union led to citation dismissals.

City attorney Wynetta Massey said in a letter to the civil rights group that some actions have been dismissed as officials continue reviewing cases, and changes to the ordinances will be presented to city councilmembers, the Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1Vn6cRK).

Colorado Springs exempts passive solicitation in its ordinances, which prohibit individuals from approaching people in public to ask for money or other items of value.

The ACLU said enforcement has targeted impoverished individuals who are passively soliciting. The group says police data shows there were almost 900 citations for public soliciting between January 2013 and August 2015.

According to a Sept. 14 letter to Massey, the ACLU said “such enforcement illegally targets impoverished persons whose pleas for assistance do not violate Colorado Springs’ solicitation laws.”

ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein says the police and city attorney have acknowledged citing, prosecuting and convicting innocent people.

“The ACLU appreciates the city’s prompt decision to order police to stop enforcing the panhandling ordinances against persons who are not violating those ordinances,” he said.

A City Attorney’s Office spokeswoman said Massey declined to comment. Her letter says the ACLU will get an update at the end of October.

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Information from: The Gazette, https://www.gazette.com


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