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To Panhandle or Not To Panhandle

By Alicia Dorr in News on Oct 20, 2006 4:35PM

Panhandling isn't just for spare change anymore—it's about civil liberties. Kim Pindak is taking the city to court for kicking him out of Millennium Park because he was panhandling. Hanging out in the park is a necessity for Pindak, but it's also his right, says his lawyer.

It isn't a huge surprise that Mark Weinberg is defending Pindak; He has made this his issue three times in the past. He points out that while there is an ordinance in the city against aggressive panhandling, but that does not mean someone can be kicked out of a public place for a simple, "Can you spare any change?"

And there is the crux of the lawsuit against the city. Weinberg argues that being in a public place is every person's right, and the city can't pick and choose who it lets hang out. The park supervisor says (while dismissing Pindak from the park on video, no less) that Millennium Park is a city park, and there's no honest_panhandler.jpg panhandling under city law. On yet another side is the city law department, whose spokesperson admits that panhandling is not, in fact, illegal in Millennium Park. Hmm.

Weinberg points out that Pindak, who has become the face of his newest crusade for panhandlers' rights, has not violated the aggressive panhandling ordinance, which prohibits touching, blocking a person's path, following, profane language and asking for change while a person is in line. Pindak is more on the hanging out with a cup end of panhandling. We've always taken a "live and let live" attitude towards panhandling - you're not bothering us, we won't bother you. It doesn't look like this case would set a devious precedent, or change the course of history so, we're wondering, what's the big deal? You want to panhandle in a public place, go for it - but, if we say we don't have any money, no matter what clothes we're wearing, we probably don't.

Photo via Bruen's Credit Union Blog