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Dec 13, 2012 7:19 PM by Andy Koen

Decision on panhandling ban postponed until next week

DENVER - A federal judge will soon decide whether to block the new downtown solicitation ban in Colorado Springs. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city on behalf of four individuals and four non-profit organizations and on the grounds that the law violates their free speech right.

In defending the ordinance, city leaders including Mayor Steve Bach, Police Chief Pete arey and City Councilman Merv Bennett testified that the growth of aggressive panhandling and solicitation in the designated area is driving away customers and tourists from downtown businesses.

"This ordinance was designed after looking at other ordinances in other parts of the community, in other parts of the country that were successful and were found to meet constitutional muster," councilman Bennett explained.

Steve Saint is the executive director of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He says the law is overly broad and keeps groups such as his from raising money.

"The oldest profession is to go ask somebody for money for some reason and all the downtown merchants are doing that too," Saint said. "They just don't like the competiton."

Federal District Court Judge Marsha Krieger is expected to make a ruling next Tuesday, a day before the ordinance is scheduled to take affect.

Both parties requested more time to submit additional case history for her to consider.

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