INDIANAPOLIS — A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana claims that city police are harassing panhandlers and homeless people.
The lawsuit filed June 11 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis alleges that police treatment of four homeless men violated their constitutional right of free speech and protection from unreasonable searches. It seeks class-action status.
The suit claims police told two homeless men who were silently soliciting money with cups that they had to leave the area even though they were not violating state panhandling laws. Two others have been forced to produce identification and wait while police did records checks, the suit alleges.
The suit seeks an injunction preventing police from interfering with lawful soliciting or demanding ID from homeless people without probable cause.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard earlier this year announced a plan to aggressively enforce anti-panhandling laws. Last month, the city installed donation boxes downtown in an effort to discourage giving directly to panhandlers.