NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana has sued the City of Slidell on behalf of three individuals who panhandle on the city streets. Gary Blitch, a U.S. Army veteran, and co-plaintiffs David Knight and Daniel Snyder, seek nothing more than their First Amendment right to ask others for money.
While panhandling has long been recognized as a First Amendment-protected activity, the City of Slidell has passed an ordinance requiring registration with the police and a permit. “Slidell officials have tried for years to remove beggars from their streets,” said Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “Whether they like it or not, free speech applies to all, including those whose speech Slidell officials may not favor.”
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, seeks a declaration that the ordinance is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ordinance. The plaintiffs are represented by ACLU of Louisiana Staff Attorney Bruce Hamilton, and cooperating attorney Ronald L. Wilson.