Manchester, City Police Officer Sued for Violating Panhandlers' Rights

Jan 12, 2016

The New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union and New Hampshire Legal Assistance are suing the city of Manchester and a police officer for allegedly infringing upon the constitutional rights of panhandlers.

The ACLU argues the Manchester Police Department has been charging panhandlers with disorderly conduct.  Gilles Bissonnette is legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. He says the city is applying that charge to legal behavior.

“These individuals are not committing a crime, and Manchester is twisting the language of the statute to criminalize this behavior, which is not a crime in New Hampshire.”

The suit was brought on behalf of a fifty-four year old Army and Navy veteran named Theresa Petrello.

The ACLU also sued the town of Hudson in 2014 for similar attempts to curb panhandling. The town settled.

Police officer Ryan Brandreth also is named as a defendant in the suit.  The City of Manchester declined to comment.