The city of Birmingham no longer has an ordinance related to begging.
City commissioners abolished the long-standing rule during a vote at Monday's meeting on the recommendation of City Attorney Timothy Currier, who explained a recent ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found Michigan's begging statute unconstitutional. Commissioners Dilgard, McDaniel, Nickita, Rinschler and Sherman voted to repeal the ordinance and Hoff and Moore were absent.
The city's ordinance, approved in 1963, was based on that statute and stated:
“It shall be unlawful for any person within the city to beg in a public place from passersby, either by words, gestures or by the exhibiting of a sign.”
Currier explained that the court defined begging as fee speech right that could not be infringed upon as long as the act didn't impede people on the street or become a threat. He said the Oakland County prosecutors will conduct a second training with Birmingham police officers on free speech rights after the one completed in January following an incident with a fur protester.
Police officials did not seem overly concerned about the change, but emphasized a low tolerance for aggressive panhandlers.
“We want residents to understand that while begging is not prohibited in Birmingham, at no time should anyone hesitate to call the Birmingham Police Department if they feel uncomfortable or threatened by those who are begging,” Chief Don Studt said in written statement.
Anyone that experiences a problem is encouraged to call the Birmingham Police Department’s non-emergency line at 248-530-1870.
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