Indianapolis council stalls panhandling ban

Associated Press
July 24, 2013
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A proposal pushed by the Indianapolis mayor to ban panhandling in the city's downtown has been tabled by the City-County Council.

Democratic council Vice President John Barth says Tuesday's decision by a council committee was based on worries about lawsuits over such a ban. Barth says he and others will work with the tourism group Visit Indy to draft an ordinance that could survive legal challenges.

Republican Mayor Greg Ballard has sought a downtown no-solicitation zone prohibiting even passive cup shaking and sign holding. He says he's disappointed by the council's action and that his proposal was modeled after laws in other cities that courts have upheld.

Visit Indy spokesman Chris Gahl says some convention organizers have cited panhandling concerns among their reasons for not coming to Indianapolis.


  • Panhanle Zone
    Restrictions in speech are allowed if they are only time place and manner based, and not content based. What they need to do is pass a law designating a panhandling zone, and put that zone, away from tourists, conventions, ect. Those who wish to exercise their right to panhandle as "speech" or "assembly" can do so in the zone.
  • Panhandling
    Banning panhandling won't address the problems of affordable housing, declining schools, substance abuse, and lack of services for the mentally ill. These are the problems that plague our city resulting in more violent crimes, panhandlers, and homeless individuals.
  • Panhandling bans
    Seem like a great idea on the surface, don't they? But the problem is, the actions of a panhandler, specifically, sitting on the sidewalk with a sign are dangerously similar to actions we want our citizens to continue enjoying the right to, that is, political protest and peaceable assembly. Cities have the right to ban aggressive panhandling(i.e. confrontational panhandling, a.k.a. strong-arm robbery) and should all do so. But making it illegal to sit on the sidewalk with a sign? Talk about killing an ant with a nuclear bomb: You'd end up stripping the rest of us of the right to political protest
  • RE: Eyes Wide Open
    Eyes Wide Open, you are dead on. Our downtown is hiding the fact that the rest of the old city of Indianapolis is crumbling. Center township had the SAME percentage loss in population as Detroit since 1950. UNIGOV and a fancy, tourist oriented downtown has obscured this from being known. With the soaring crime rates, people are begining to realize what a fraud our "city" is.
  • Eyes Wide Open
    In the early 1980s, when Indianapolis was Indianoplace, there were three department stores downtown. Now there is one. Who does Ballard think he is fooling? This city has poured billions into downtown and aside from some bars and fancy hotels, we have absolutely nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, the rest of Center Township is a stinking, rotten corpse. Way to go, guys and gals. This is on you. Go ahead and ban panhandling. I thought the cricket thing was funny enough. This is funnier. Look past those 10,000 abandoned houses! No panhandlers anywhere! Go Indy!
  • cupholder
    There's no way that the courts will uphold a law criminalizing the act of peacefully holding a sign or shaking a cup. Many such laws have already been struck down from coast to coast. Personally I could do without panhandlers, but passing nothing is better than passing something that's sure to be struck down.
  • Bums
    Sad that my out of town clients love everything about our downtown, but the first thing they comment on is the bum racket going on each corner. Why do we let a few weird ACLU folks scare us with lawsuits? The bums will move to another town if we enact this, or better yet, maybe they go home and face their problems.
  • Spineless city council
    The saddest thing about downtown's worsening panhandling situation is that almost everyone shaking a cup or holding a sign is not actually homeless. As a downtown resident, I see these people get dropped off in the mornings and picked up at night, and I've see them keep their cell phones under their buckets. Unfortunately I've also seen true homelessness in our city, and it's never at the corner of Meridian and Georgia Streets. Take a look sometime under the bridges at Oliver and Kentucky - those people are truly homeless, and sadly they are ignored by the city just as they ignore the tourist crowds. If the city can choose to ignore the real problems, then surely they can stand up to the fakes out in front of the convention center. I say ban these scumbags for good. They blight our city and turn people off to the real homelessness problems we have.
  • Downward slide
    New apartment development with increasing downtown residential demand; Clean downtown environment; New sports venues; all of the ingredients to Indianapolis' continued growth and prominence as a great U.S. City. Add the violence by youths / young adults and panhandling.....we will be shocked by just how rapidly Indy could lose its luster and become just another depressed Midwestern city. Some City Councilors want to ignore panhandling, hoping it will go away. It won't! Don't let them bury this issue.
  • Seriously?
    I remember this being a huge problem in Detroit...hmmmmm. Lawsuit? Really?
  • Council is out of Line
    This needs to be addressed so we don't lose convention business. Panhandling is an embarrassment to our city.
  • Strongly support the ban
    This is a wonderful idea and I hope it gets implemented as soon as possible. In the four years since I've moved downtown the sidewalks have become unpleasant to walk. I do not enjoy stepping in mysterious brown puddles and being harassed on each corner of each intersection by somebody shaking a cup.

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  1. We gotta stop this Senior crime. Perhaps long jail terms for these old boozers is in order. There are times these days (more rather than less) when this state makes me sick.

  2. One option is to redistribute the payroll tax already collected by the State. A greater share could be allocated to the county of the workplace location as opposed to the county of residency. Not a new tax, just re-allocate what is currently collected.

  3. Have to agree with Mal Burgess. The biggest problem is massive family breakdown in these neighborhoods. While there are a lot of similiarities, there is a MASSIVE difference between 46218 and 46219. 46219 is diluted by some stable areas, and that's probably where the officers live. Incentivizing is fine, but don't criticize officers for choosing not to live in these neighbor hoods. They have to have a break from what is arguably one of the highest stress job in the land. And you'll have to give me hard evidence that putting officers there is going to make a significant difference. Solid family units, responsible fathers, siblings with the same fathers, engaged parents, commitment to education, respect for the rule of law and the importance of work/a job. If the families and the schools (and society) will support these, THEN we can make a difference.

  4. @Agreed, when you dine in Marion County, the taxes paid on that meal go to state coffers (in the form of the normal sales taxes) and to the sports/entertainment venues operated by the CIB. The sales taxes on your clothing and supplies just go to the state. The ONLY way those purchases help out Indianapolis is through the payroll taxes paid by the (generally low-wage) hourly workers serving you.

  5. The government leaders of Carmel wouldn't last a week trying to manage Indianapolis. There's a major difference between running a suburb with virtually no one below the poverty level and running a city in which 21+% are below the poverty level. (http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/data/interactive/#view=StateAndCounty&utilBtn=&yLB=0&stLB=15&cLB=49&dLB=0&gLB=0&usSts_cbSelected=false&usTot_cbSelected=true&stateTot_cbSelected=true&pLB=0?ltiYearSelected=false?ltiYearAlertFlag=false?StateFlag=false?validSDYearsFlag=false)