For Immediate Release
February 23, 2017 Contact:
Office of the City Attorney
City Attorney Issues Information about Panhandling in Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The City of Fayetteville has received numerous inquiries from citizens requesting information about panhandling. Courts across the nation have recently overturned anti-panhandling laws due to a 2015 Supreme Court ruling. “Panhandling” is now considered free speech and thus protected by our Constitution. In November 2016 – the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ruled, “Arkansas’s anti-begging law infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution.”
Fayetteville City Council updated Code §74.04 in December 2016 by passing Ordinance 5939
* to ensure the safety of drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Simply stated, the updated §74.04 prohibits individuals from standing or walking outside of a pedestrian/trail crosswalk on an arterial roadway with speed limits over 35 mph (many of our four-lane roads). Individuals are free to stand on corners with signage; however, according to ordinance, they cannot step into the roadway (outside of a crosswalk/trail crossing).
If you find yourself concerned about someone’s safety near a roadway, or about panhandlers on private property (such as shopping centers) – please contact the Fayetteville Police Department's non-emergency line 479-587-3555.
Fayetteville is recognized as a compassionate and inclusive city. Citizens have the right to give money and resources to whomever they choose. To make the most impact as an individual, City officials recommend that people learn more about the needs of the community by contacting nonprofits within the region to find out the best way to provide support – by volunteering time, giving money, or donating food/household goods.
City Attorney Kit Williams’ most recent memo regarding begging and panhandling can be found on the City’s website here
* Please note that Ordinance 5939 has not been codified, therefore it is not in the City’s latest published City Code. The City Clerk/Treasurer makes quarterly updates to the published City Code.