Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas From Enforcing Anti-Loitering Law

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LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) -- A federal judge has blocked Arkansas from enforcing an anti-loitering law, siding with opponents who say the measure unconstitutionally targets panhandlers.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson on Tuesday granted a preliminary injunction against the law, which expands the definition of loitering. The law would prohibit anyone from asking for anything as charity or a gift in a harassing or threatening manner in a way that's likely to cause alarm to the other person, or creates a traffic hazard, according to THV11.

The measure was approved earlier year after Wilson struck down an earlier section of the state's anti-loitering law that included a begging ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state over the measure on behalf of two panhandlers. The state had argued the law still allowed begging in many forms.

The ACLU of Arkansas released the following statement:

“This ruling is a victory for all Arkansans who value their First Amendment rights,” said ACLU of Arkansas executive director Rita Sklar. “Being poor is not a crime, and asking for help shouldn’t land you in jail. The ACLU of Arkansas will continue to defend the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, especially on behalf of vulnerable people to whom its protections are too often denied.”