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Posted on: July 15, 2021

Update: Federal Court Ruling Regarding Panhandling

Gold Patch

UPDATE: The Police Department continues to receive complaints from concerned citizens about the presence of panhandlers, including one in a wheelchair, and want to remind the motoring public of our notification last January pertaining to the Federal court ruling. Since that time the Village of Oak Brook has rescinded its ordinance in March to be in compliance with Federal law. Police officers have been instructed not to infringe upon the panhandler’s First Amendment rights to be there, even though we would all agree that the issue is traffic and public safety, not speech. Until there is a legislative remedy that will pass constitutional muster, we ask our residents and the motoring public to be patient and travel in our more active intersections safely. We do realize that many of these individuals regularly frequent the same corner, but the only real way to try to eliminate them from the roadway is to not give money. We suggest you donate money to worthy charities that outreach to the needy

A law suit was filed in Federal court by the ACLU on behalf of two homeless persons stating that their rights to free speech were being infringed upon by the enforcement of these panhandling laws by the police.   The States Attorney as well as municipal liability carriers gave direction months ago for the police to refrain from enforcement while the case wound its way through the courts.  That has led to a proliferation of these activities throughout the metropolitan area.  On January 14, 2021 A federal judge has permanently banned Illinois’ panhandling law from being enforced on the basis the statute violates the First Amendment. The Federal Court of the Northern District of Illinois issued an Injunction order forbidding state law or local ordinances on panhandling from being enforced.  The Oak Brook Police Department understands the frustration and the potential traffic safety hazards this may create but until a legal remedy can be resolved, the police department will not be responding to complaints about panhandlers on the roadway unless there is an articulated safety concern for the individual.   Mere presence will not serve as a reason to believe there is a safety concern.

The Stipulated Preliminary Injunction Order can be found here (PDF).

The Michael Dumiak and Christopher Simmons -- Memorandum Opinion and Order (Decision) can be found here (PDF).

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