Add the ACLU to questions about Little Rock ordinance to stop homeless feeding | Arkansas Blog

Monday, May 15, 2017

Add the ACLU to questions about Little Rock ordinance to stop homeless feeding

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 5:29 PM

City Manager Bruce Moore told me earlier today there'd be no vote Tuesday on an ordinance aimed at discouraging public park feeding of the homeless by requiring a permit for such free meals and limiting them to two per park a year.

But, as I noted earlier, opposition is rising and several have noted lawsuits in other cities — and even an attorney general's opinion by Mark Pryor some years ago — that indicate religious and free association constitutional protections can be raised against city laws that go too far to punish the homeless simply for being homeless or to restrict services to them.

Now comes the ACLU of Arkansas with a letter to Little Rock officials raising similar points.

The letter says passage of the ordinance would lead to litigation against the city for violation of constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and association and religious rights of those who provide or receive services.

The ACLU letter, from legal counsel Holly Dickson, acknowledges "at least the perception" of an increase in panhandling since a federal court struck down the Arkansas anti-begging law last year. The law was was shameful, she said, and forced people out of public places into private areas. Now, people are coming out of the shadows. "Homelessness, poverty and food insecurity are once again more visible in our public spaces and on public sidewalks across the state."

The ordinance, the letter said, would "eradicate any sort of reliable feeding services in public parks and spaces. It would preclude food support that is accessible via public transportation, including the downtown bus terminal. It would burden the few providers who use their limited resources in Little Rock to do as much as they can to fill the gaps in existing city, county and state services."

The ACLU also is concerned about other city actions against the homeless.

It reports hearing that some city officials want to again criminalize begging, which the law doesn't allow and which would be contested if arrests resumed. The ACLU is also "troubled" by the eviction of homeless from tents on private property where the city may have acted without a request or consent by private property owners. All this is "tugging Little Rock in the absolute wrong direction." The ACLU urged the city to work on constructive solutions to the problems of homelessness.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation