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ACLU suing southwest MO town

Posted: 10:04 AM, Sep 21, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-21 11:04:48-04

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit challenging an ordinance restricting panhandling in a southwest Missouri town.

The city of Bolivar passed the ordinance in March after complaints that some groups and door-to-door sales people were being aggressive in seeking donations.

The city said the ordinance was needed to protect citizens' safety. It details places and times when passive panhandling is allowed.

Bolivar resident Richard Hill protested the ordinance by walking around the city about 30 miles north of Springfield carrying a sign that read "I NEED MONEY."

The ACLU said Friday the ordinance violates Bolivar residents' free speech rights and is so broad it prohibits even street peddlers from soliciting without a permit.

Bolivar City Attorney Don Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment. 

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