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Judge strikes down city’s panhandling ordinance

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) The city of Charlottesville has been ordered to halt the enforcement of an ordinance that prohibits panhandling on parts of the city’s Downtown Mall.

A federal judge ruled Thursday the ordinance violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections, The Daily Progress reports.

An attorney for a group of homeless people had argued the ordinance targeted a “certain class of people.” It barred panhandling within 50 feet of either of two streets that cross the Downtown Mall, but it didn’t stop someone from soliciting signatures for a political petition.

The city argued panhandling near the crossings was a public safety hazard, and people are free to ask for donations elsewhere on the pedestrian mall.

But U.S. District Judge Norman Moon said the ordinance reflected a focus on the panhandlers.

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