It is the season of giving and Nebraskans are known around the country for their generous spirit. Yet those in Omaha who ask for help have been ticketed and thrown in jail for up to 14 days for holding signs asking for help.
No one should spend time in jail for holding up a sign asking for help. Thank the Omaha City Council for standing up for free speech.
After years of negotiating with the city on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, the Omaha City Council took action and unanimously voted to revise the city's panhandling ordinance. This important action strikes the right balance between public safety and free speech and will likely save the city taxpayers significant funds that otherwise would have been devoted to costly civil rights litigation. Please join us in thanking members of the Omaha City Council by sending a quick email to members of the council.
Anti-begging laws that punish that most vulnerable segment of our society are not only harsh, they are unconstitutional. No one should be thrown in jail or subjected to a fine for holding up a sign or simply asking for spare change. Our municipalities cannot and should not use the force of law to silence the voices of innocent people who rely on charity to survive. The First Amendment protects the rights of all people, regardless of economic circumstances or social status, to make peaceful, non-threatening requests for charity.
In a nation where the poor are increasingly subjected to harsh criminal penalties, the city of Omaha has done the right thing by protecting free speech and ensuring taxpayer money and criminal justice resources are used wisely.