MIDDLE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A southern New Jersey town now requires beggars to obtain permits and seeks to punish those who aggressively solicit donations.
The Middle Township ordinance defines aggressive begging as speaking to or following a person in a manner that would cause them to fear bodily harm or otherwise intimidating someone into giving money or goods.
The ordinance requires those who solicit money to obtain a permit, which is valid for a year and available at no charge. It also forbids solicitation by obstructing a pedestrian or vehicle, near an automated teller machine or bus or train stop, and in exchange for a service.
EXTRA: Read The Full List Of Restrictions (pdf)
Fines start at $250 and include possible jail time.
Police Chief Christopher Leusner told The Press of Atlantic City beggars who are not threatening and comply with the ordinance will not be punished.
“Someone walks by and says, ‘Can you spare a dollar?’ And they thank you, they keep on moving – that’s something that is protected by the First Amendment,” Leusner told the paper. “That’s not what we’re targeting here. These are people that are making people feel unsafe.”
The ordinance will go into effect Oct. 27.
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