The lawsuit, filed on Friday by the Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, alleges the plaintiffs, described as homeless and living in poverty, were ordered to move away from a mall because they were soliciting contributions from pedestrians. The ACLU claims this is a violation of free speech rights under the First Amendment.
ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said, "The First Amendment protects the rights of all people to ask for contributions, whether they are seeking political donations or asking for assistance for poor people on city sidewalks. This case seeks to vindicate a right that is fundamentally important for all."
According to the ACLU, the group was requesting donations by holding up signs for pedestrians to see. At no time, the ACLU claims, did the individuals seek funds from anyone driving by, or harass verbally harass pedestrians.
"The ACLU of Indiana believes in the power of the First Amendment to give everyone a voice, even when those voices confront us with our greatest challenges, such as poverty and homelessness," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. "The power and purpose of America's commitment to free speech involves accepting its benefits and its costs. We can and will remain a welcoming city without silencing our fellow Americans."