Is panhandling consitutional?

Mayor-President Josh Guillory and The Lafayette Police Department want to criminalize begging and panhandling here in the Hub city.

Posted: Jan 13, 2022 5:30 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2022 11:56 AM

LAFAYETTE, La. - A panhandler, it's a person who stops people in the street and asks them for food or money but how is Mayor-President Josh Guillory is tied into mix?

Mayor-President Josh Guillory and The Lafayette Police Department are pressing hard to eliminate begging and panhandling within the Hub city but the question at hand? Is this constituitional or not?

Some say the push is a violation of freedom of speech particularly after a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a homeless man.


"I was homeless for a longtime, I had a real bad addiction to drugs and the drugs led me down a bad path," said Jaramillio.

Residents like Christina say panhandling shouldn't be criminalized - She was homeless a short six months ago and lost her job, car and home. She says panhandling is how she got off the street.

"It helped me to get food in my stomach and stuff whenever I didn't have anything to eat and it helped me get a place to lay my head and clothes and stuff like that just to make it through the day," said Jaramillo.

The man says his 1st and 4th amendment rights were violated after The Lafayette Police Department cited him twice for a misdemeanor while panhandling. His attorney says city ordinances were misused.

"Until we've been in someone's situation I think you don't really understand everything so I just try and not judge without knowing everybody's story so I don't feel one way or the other about it," said a Louisiana resident.

The man at the center of this lawsuit has been homeless for close to 3 years. He was first cited after asking for donations back in November of 2020 and then for a second time a little over two weeks later.

Now this is where Mayor-President Josh Guillory comes in. The homeless mans lawsuit says before Guillory was elected officers would tell him to simply move along but says now he gets threats like "if we catch you again it's not going to be nice."

The lawsuit states that only non-profits and other charitable organizations who ask for money for those in need are exempt from the ordinance against begging and soliciting money but then there's residents like Joshua Foreman.

"I was hurt in a car accident and lost my job and now I'm homeless and just trying to make it day by day. I don't think it should be a crime because were not forcing people to stop and give us money we're just asking me for it," said Foreman.

In the past Mayor-President Guillory did implemnt a local criminal mischief law used to make panhandling arrest but that was ruled unconstiutional by a judge in April. It was later reinstated by The Louisiana Supreme Court in October.

During Christmas LPD started requiring thier officers to work 12 hour shifts for panhandling.

At this time LCG has made no comment and there has been no formal reply to the lawsuit filed in federal court.

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