ACLU warns Mebane officials against creating ‘unconstitutional’ panhandling ordinance

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MEBANE, N.C. — Monday evening, the Mebane City Council will discuss what has become a concern for many in Mebane — panhandling.

Right now, the city has no ordinance to regulate panhandling. As they discuss whether or not to create one, the American Civil Liberties Union is keeping a close eye on what is decided.

After FOX8 reported on residents’ panhandling concerns in May, FOX8 learned that the American Civil Liberties Union contacted the City of Mebane.

In a letter from the ACLU to Mebane City Attorney Lawson Brown, the ACLU warns that a panhandling ordinance could violate panhandlers’ constitutional rights, depending on what it includes.

“We write to you on behalf of a Mebane resident who recently contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation,” the letter reads. “This individual alerted us to the proposed ordinance after hearing about it on a FOX8 News segment.”

“We are taking the ACLU seriously,” Cheek said. “We are trying to do the right thing here for our citizens and the safety of all involved.”

Cheek said several residents in Mebane have complained to the city about panhandlers, particularly at exits 153 and 154 off of Interstate 40.

“It drives me insane,” said Myrtle Daye, who works at a gas station nearby. “It really does.”

“It can become a safety issue if folks are getting out in the street,” Cheek said. “One, for the panhandler, and two, because the light may turn green and someone could run into the back of that car.”

At the Mebane City Council meeting Monday, Cheek said they will discuss panhandling and whether or not it is necessary to draft an ordinance to regulate it.

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