Panhandlers challenge Indy effort to ban them

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A group of panhandlers say an effort to ban them from downtown Indianapolis violates their First Amendment rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of four panhandlers who say police have told them they can't beg on downtown sidewalks.

Mayor Greg Ballard has asked the City-County Council to ban oral requests for money in a square-mile area and passive solicitations - such as people shaking cups or holding signs - across much of the city. The current ordinance permits such activities

The council tabled Ballard's proposed ordinance last month.

Spokesman Marc Lotter says the ACLU challenged the existing ordinance in court and lost.

ACLU legal director Ken Falk says panhandling is no different than someone asking for donations to fight cancer.