Asking for spare change on the streets of Escambia County, Fl., used to get people arrested under an ordinance that prohibits panhandling. It won’t anymore, reports the Pensacola News Journal. The county sheriff’ decided to stop enforcing the ordinance after the American Civil Liberties Union raised concerns that it illegally restricts free speech.
There were 169 arrests under the law since 2007, with some homeless people being arrested more than once. The ordinance prohibits soliciting and panhandling under some circumstances, including after sunset and before sunrise, at bus stops, within 20 feet of ATMs and bank entrances and from a driver in traffic. It does not ban someone from holding a sign that asks for donations as long the person does not make a request to a specific person.