Topic

poverty

58 petitions

Update posted 3 months ago

Petition to Allan Fung, Michael J. Farina, Michael W. Favicchio, Paul H. Archetto, John E. Lanni Jr., Steven A. Stycos, Kenneth J. Hopkins, Trent M. Colford, Sr., Paul J. McAuley

Reject Cranston's Ordinance to Prohibit Solicitations on Roadways

The City of Cranston is once again considering an ordinance that seeks to criminalize panhandling. The proposal is a replacement for a previous ordinance that was ruled unconstitutional after a successful RI ACLU challenge. The RI ACLU said in a letter to Mayor Fung and the City Council, that this proposal has “many -- if not more -- of the First Amendment problems” of the original ordinance. If passed, the RI ACLU will likely challenge it in court. Such a challenge would cost the city thousands of dollars. Please sign this petition to tell the Cranston City Council to reject this proposal and to tell Mayor Allan Fung to withdraw his support, or veto the ordinance should it pass. The proposed ordinance (titled “Prohibition Against Distribution to and Receiving from Occupants of Vehicles”) is a bad idea. It is a waste of taxpayer money, it lacks compassion, and it fails to address the root causes of panhandling. We strongly reject this ordinance for the following reasons: The ordinance as written likely violates First Amendment rights and will almost certainly be challenged in court at Cranston taxpayers’ expense. Similar anti-panhandling laws, including those in Lowell, MA, Worcester, MA, and Portland, ME, were found unconstitutional in federal court. Pursuing a similar ordinance -- for a second time -- risks another lawsuit and additional unnecessary costs to Cranston taxpayers. The ordinance is presented under the guise of “public safety,” and cites traffic accident statistics at a list of Cranston intersections as evidence. Yet it provides no evidence that any of those accidents were caused by the behavior it seeks to criminalize. It would restrict protesting (e.g., leafleting) and charity drives (e.g., the MDA’s “Fill the Boot” campaign), in addition to panhandling, in clear violation of the First Amendment. Restricting solicitations might push those in need to greater despair. The proposed ordinance is inefficient and redundant since it attempts to prohibit behavior (such as obstruction of traffic in the roadway) already prohibited under existing laws. The proposal offers no remedy for the underlying causes of behaviors it is meant to restrict.  The proposed ordinance would be enforced via the issuance of “civil citations,” which almost certainly come with a fine. Imposing fines on people unable to pay (e.g., homeless, unemployed) places an undue burden on the taxpayer-funded criminal justice system, and is furthermore tantamount to criminalizing poverty and therefore unjust. The proposed ordinance is doomed to face a costly and protracted legal battle. The Mayor refuses to learn from past mistakes. Passing this ordinance will waste taxpayer money, while unjustly and unfairly targeting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Please join us in urging Cranston’s elected leaders to reject this ill-advised, unconstitutional, and discriminatory legislation. Sincerely, Cranston Action Network

Cranston Action Network
224 supporters