OKLAHOMA CITY–The City Council of Oklahoma City approved this morning an amendment to the City’s previously adopted anti-panhandling ordinance, restricting the ability of citizens to sit, stand, or stay on public medians. The amendment changes which medians are affected by the ordinance but continues to restrict access to large numbers of public medians in Oklahoma City. In response, the ACLU of Oklahoma released the following statement:
The following statement is attributable to Brady Henderson, Legal Director:
“Make no mistake about it, today’s amendment to the City Council’s unconstitutional and ill-advised anti-panhandling ordinance does nothing to make the city code constitutional. With or without today’s amendment, this ordinance is wildly out of compliance with the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions. Because city government still refuses to respect these constitutional rights, we must and will continue to defend them in our ongoing litigation.
From the beginning, this ordinance has been about limiting the First Amendment rights of Oklahoma City’s indigent population and sweeping visible evidence of poverty under the rug. Like the ordinance as originally passed, today’s amendment makes the public no safer. Instead, it only serves to drag already costly litigation out further. If the City Council is truly interested in protecting the residents they ostensibly serve, they cannot continue to punish the poor under the guise of protecting public safety. We will continue to litigate this case until this ordinance is repealed or ruled to be unconstitutional.”