Rogers Replaces Panhandling Ordinance Following Lawsuit

ROGERS (KFSM) -- Following a free speech lawsuit, the city of Rogers passed a new ordinance to combat panhandling in the city.

In June the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Rogers, Hot Springs and Fort Smith over their city ordinances banning panhandling.

At the city council meeting Tuesday night, officials voted to replace a section of the ordinance concerning panhandlers. Officials said they are hoping the lawsuit will be dismissed now that the ordinance has been replaced.

Now, the ordinance bans walking up to a running car in traffic. There are exceptions to the rule for law enforcement agents, protesters, pedestrians crossing the street, emergency personnel, or individuals who are performing road or utility work.

Senior attorney Jennifer Waymack said the ordinance isn't a restriction on panhandling, but it's a safety precaution.

"We don't have any objection to people standing on the street and holding a sign," said , senior attorney. "In fact there's no prohibition on that in our ordinances whatsoever. There's no prohibition in our ordinances for asking for money."

However, individuals who violate the ordinance can face penalties.

"On the Rogers side, they're handing out citations and started taking people to jail," said Denny, who started panhandling after he lost his job in December.

While not everyone agrees with how Denny makes ends meet, he said he'll keep doing what he has to do.

"I'm here from 6 o'clock in the morning, till usually 2:30 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon," he said. "It pays the bills."