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Politics & Government

Grand Rapids City Commission proposes changes to panhandling laws

A cup for spare change and a cardboard sign
BrokenSphere
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Wikimedia Commons

Last September, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that made panhandling a criminal misdemeanor, saying it trampled on the rights of free speech.

Police in Grand Rapids made vigorous use of that now-overturned law, arresting hundreds of people over the years for panhandling.

With the state law overturned, Grand Rapids and other cities have been trying to figure out how to keep a lid on aggressive panhandling, while still respecting the constitutional right to free speech.

Last night, the Grand Rapids City Commission discussed proposed changes to local panhandling ordinances.

Michigan Radio's West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith, and the American Civil Liberty Union's Miriam Auckerman talked to Stateside about what happened during the meeting.

Smith said the city of Grand Rapids was set to vote on local laws that deal with time, manner, and place restrictions.

The main agreement within the commission is that panhandling next to streets or on street corners can get dangerous. 

*Listen to full interview above.

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