American Fork won't enforce panhandling law

Nov 7 2012 - 4:45pm

AMERICAN FORK -- The city of American Fork has agreed not to enforce an anti-panhandling law, after a homeless man who had been cited multiple times for holding a sign on public sidewalks filed a federal lawsuit claiming the rule selectively barred free speech.

The settlement finalized Friday called on the city to dismiss its case against Steve Ray Evans, pay him $750 in damages, and reimburse $5,327.76 in attorney fees and court costs, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Utah code makes it illegal to "sit, stand or loiter on or near a roadway" in order to solicit a ride, money, employment or other business. But a federal judge ruled in March the law was unconstitutional and shouldn't be enforced.

The Utah Legal Clinic and Utah Civil Rights & Liberties Foundation sued American Fork on Evans' behalf in October, claiming the law "discriminates among types of speech" and "depends solely on a person expressing the 'wrong' words."

"In order to bring in enough money to survive, Evans sometimes engages in panhandling," court documents state. "He has found holding a sign to be an effective means of communicating with people. He does not approach or speak to people unless invited to do so."

Evans was also a plaintiff in similar lawsuits against Salt Lake City and Draper. Both those cities have reached settlements on the issue.


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