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Arizona’s anti-begging law ruled unconstitutional

PHOENIX — A federal judge has ruled that an Arizona law making it a crime
to panhandle in public places is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Neil V. Wake ruled that the anti-begging provision
violated free speech rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a lawsuit against the city
of Flagstaff on behalf of a disabled Hopi woman who was arrested for begging in
February.

The ACLU says the 77-year-old woman was taken into custody for asking an
undercover Flagstaff police officer for $1.25 for bus fare.

Flagstaff adopted a policy in 2008 to remove panhandlers from downtown areas by
jailing them early in the day on “loitering to beg” charges.

The ACLU says 135 arrests were made by Flagstaff police under that statute
between June 2012 and May 2013.

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