Judge: City’s panhandling ban likely unconstitutional

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily barred the city of Cranston from enforcing an ordinance that bars panhandling at busy intersections.

U.S. District Judge William Smith on Thursday said the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union was likely to succeed in its lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban. He issued a temporary restraining order pending a final decision about whether the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

Cranston last year acknowledged a panhandling ban instituted in 2015 was unconstitutional. The city agreed to settle a different ACLU lawsuit and stop enforcing it.

The new ordinance was described as a safety measure when it passed the City Council 5-4 in February.

The judge said it does not appear narrowly tailored to address safety concerns.