CONCORD, N.H. (CBS/AP) — A New Hampshire city has paid $89,000 to settle a woman’s federal lawsuit challenging an anti-panhandling ordinance after a judge ruled such measures are a direct violation of the First Amendment.
Theresa Petrello, an Army and Navy veteran who has panhandled to make ends meet, sued the city of Manchester after police cited her for disorderly conduct. A federal judge in September ordered the city and several others to cease the enforcement of unconstitutional ordinances that ban individuals from receiving charitable contributions from individuals in motor vehicles.
“I feel that I was treated very unfairly by the Manchester police and its officials,” Petrello said in a statement. “I hope this settlement, as well as the court decision, will cause local communities to rethink how they treat poor people.”
Signs have been installed across Manchester urging people not to give money to panhandlers and warning that a handout could lead to a lethal overdose.
Police Chief Nick Willard previously wrote a letter to the community saying donations are better directed to agencies that deal with homelessness, mental illness and addiction.
“Even if they’re not addicted to drugs, they’re panhandling for alcohol, they’re panhandling for cigarettes,” said Willard. “They’re panhandling for those things that we as a society don’t provide for your basic needs, and I think people need to understand that.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)