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Our View Senseless propanhandling rulings continue


Fed up with the panhandlers begging in West Memphis, particularly on the service roads and North Missouri Street? Don’t blame city leaders for allowing this frustrating annoyance because as badly as they want to eliminate this distraction they along with other city leaders throughout the state are being stymied by what many believe are liberal minded U.S. District judges.

Hot Springs leaders, who have taken the lead in attempting to rid their city of annoying beggars, faced yet another court rejection of a revised ordinance that would ban begging on their city streets.

The latest effort, which called for outlawing physical interactions between pedestrians and occupants of vehicles, has been recently blocked by U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson of Fort Smith, in the Western District of Arkansas.

The first time Hot Springs leaders were blocked from enforcing a begging ordinance was in 2017 when U.S.

district Judge Billy Roy Wilson of Little Rock, found that the state law unconstitutionally singled out and prohibited a certain type of speech — begging.

Wilson’s ruling on Sept. 27, 2017, echoed a similar ruling he had made on Nov. 22, 2016, striking down the previous version of the law, which had been in place for 30 years.

Behind all this interference is none other than the leftist and liberal American Civl Liberties Union of Arkansas which sued Hot Springs in all three cases on behalf of all so-called panhandlers and in particular a veteran beggar by the name of Michael Andrew Rodgers.

We’re told Wilson’s most recent order–a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing the law-remains on appeal to the 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Until that court makes a ruling, the case cannot move forward to the next stage of litigation, in which the ACLU wants Wilson to enact a permanent injunction.

Insofar as West Memphis is concerned, there is a solicitation ordinance on the books which not only addresses street panhandling but prohibits residential door-to-door solicitation without a city permit. City leaders last year were advised by the city attorney to shelf the ordinance pending the outcome of the Hot Springs ruling to avoid legal proceedings.

One of the main campaign promises of defeated mayoral candidate Wayne Croom was to aggressively deal with the panhandling issue, a situation that continues to draw complaints.

It has been the consensus of West Memphis leaders to wait for final court outcome involving Hot Springs before taking any action on the existing city ordinance, which is the appropriate thing to do to avoid costly litigation.

While we all understand the importance of our First Amendment rights there must be some type of compromise that could be agreeable with the liberal ACLU, the beggars and those of us who feel such begging practices are an invasion of privacy, creates a level of intimidation and basically a very uncomfortable situation. There is a proper time and place for everything and in this particular situation for a beggar to be staring a motorist in the face at an intersection at all hours of the day is totally inappropriate even if there are those righteous leftist who think otherwise.

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