panhandling

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The city of Manchester has paid $89,000 to settle a lawsuit over the city’s panhandling policies.

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The New Hampshire District Court has struck down Manchester's anti-panhandling ordinance, concluding the law violated the First Amendment. Under the ordinance, people were not allowed to accept charitable contributions from motor vehicles, even if they stayed out of the roadway.

  

Elliot Berry, from New Hampshire Legal Assistance, was a representing attorney in the case.

Berry says the federal court decision calls into question the constitutionality of similar ordinances in Concord, Somersworth and Rochester.    

Panhandling in the Granite State

Aug 23, 2017
Ellen Grimm

In Manchester, recently installed signs discourage giving money to people on the streets, warning that cash could be used to buy drugs. Other communities around the state have tried a variety of approaches, as they grapple with the overlapping problems of addiction, homelessness, and mental illness. 


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The city of Manchester has begun putting up signs designed to discourage people from giving money to panhandlers.

One sign put up within the past week near Amoskeag Bridge reads: “Your generosity could lead to a fatality.”

The sign encourages people to instead give their money to one of several local charities.

"It's just in furtherance of our educational campaign to hopefully save some of these folks from themselves," said Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard. "They went up last week, I think at 15 or 16 locations." 

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The chief of police of New Hampshire’s largest city is urging people not to give money to panhandlers.

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard wrote an open letter to the community last week titled "Panhandling - A Community Issue," and it’s stirred a lot of debate.

In the letter, Willard acknowledges panhandlers are within their rights to ask for money, but added that there’s no way to know if they will use it to buy drugs or alcohol.

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.

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Officials in Nashua will consider an ordinance this week that aims to curb panhandling in the city.

The Telegraph of Nashua reports the proposal would bar the exchange of goods between pedestrians and drivers in a public way.

The legislation goes before the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday.

 

Officials in Hudson have agreed to suspend their efforts to crackdown on panhandlers while a federal lawsuit is pending.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union earlier this month filed a lawsuit claiming Hudson officials are violating the free speech rights of panhandlers by telling them to stop seeking handouts and move along.

The Nashua Telegraph reports the two sides agreed in federal court that panhandlers would be able to solicit donations provided their conduct doesn't interfere with traffic or impede access to local businesses.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties is suing the town of Hudson, claiming local police have been suppressing the free speech rights of panhandlers.

Staff attorney Giles Bissonette says the lawsuit filed in federal district court claims the town has been illegally restricting panhandling on public property for more than three years.

“And this practice includes detaining, harassing, threatening, dispersing, and citing panhandlers, in violation of the 1st, 4th, and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.”

Handling Panhandlers

Mar 14, 2013

City Councilors in Concord are considering more restrictive laws about panhandling. Local police are seeing an increased amount of people asking for money and some residents are saying the panhandlers can be aggressive in their approach. But not everyone is on board- some suggest that this ordinance could be a violation of their First amendment rights and that the real focus should be getting the poor and homeless employed and back on their feet. We'll look at this debate.

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