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ACLU of Massachusetts challenging anti-panhandling ordinance

March 29, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against Fall River arguing it is aggressively enforcing an unconstitutional state law making it illegal for people to ask for money for their own support on public roads.

The group said Friday that during 2018 and into 2019, the Fall River Police Department has filed more than 150 criminal complaints against some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The group is representing two homeless men they say have been repeatedly targeted for standing by the side of roads with signs and accepting donations from drivers.

A request for comment from Fall River’s mayor’s office was not immediately returned.

ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose said similar “anti-panhandling” ordinances in Worcester and Lowell have been ruled unconstitutional in recent years.

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