Solicitation is protected under the first amendment, but cities are allowed to restrict it. That’s exactly what some Michigan communities are doing.
Bangor township near Bay City approved a panhandling ban after officials say they received a number of complaints from local residents.
Dennis Kula is the Supervisor for Bangor Township.
“The intent is not to come down hard on people that have needs. During the course of enforcing this ordinance, we are instructing all the sheriff’s deputy’s to give them a little piece of paper, it’s dial 2-1-1, an organization that serves north eastern Michigan. It’s free confidential information and referral service” says Kula.
211 connects people in need, with the health and human services information.
Rick Finn is the City Manager for Bay City, which approved a panhandling ban in September. He says creating an ordinance to restrict panhandling, has worked well for his city.
“I think it’s definitely worth the process. Obviously we’re talking about safety, we’re talking about inconvenience to the public. certainly the individuals that are doing the panhandling have rights, and were not challenging those, but we obviously have a responsibility for the public safety” says Finn.
Bangor’s panhandling ordinance carries a penalty of up to 90-days in jail and a $500 fine.