ACLU sues Cleveland over ‘unconstitutional’ panhandling law

CLEVELAND (AP) — A civil rights group has sued the city of Cleveland in federal court on behalf of a homeless man and a coalition of homeless organizations who says the city’s panhandlings laws are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says Cleveland’s laws that prohibit people from “communicating information about their poverty” violate First Amendment rights of free speech.

Court records show plaintiff John Mancini has been cited four times since December for panhandling with three of the cases dismissed. The lawsuit says he’s been told by officers to leave areas where he’s panhandling and has been threatened with arrest.

The lawsuit says Cleveland police have issued 5,800 panhandling tickets between 2007 and 2015.

A city spokesman declined to comment about the lawsuit.