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Jan 7, 2013 8:17 PM by Andy Koen

Council discusses options in panhandling fight

Colorado Springs City Council members met with the city attorney Monday to decide what their next step will be in the legal fight over the downtown panhandling ban. Last month, as part of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, a federal judge issued an emergency injunction stopping the ban from taking effect.

Many downtown businesses support the ban because they say the aggressive panhandlers are driving away customers. Chuck Murphy says similar bans exist in Indianapolis and Fort Lauderdale.

"In fact, Manitou has a no solicitation zone, as do other cities in Colorado," Murphy said. "So, absolutely we should keep up the fight."

But the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, says the new law violates the rights of the homeless and others in the community.

"We're advocating that the city spend it's time and money on a solution like the rich farm, a place for people to go, rather than passing a law and just saying move down the street," said PPJPC director Steve Saint.

City Attorney Chris Melcher says council and the members of his team are considering all their options. The city has until late February to make their decision.

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