Policy on street folk upheld by judge

September 15, 1994|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,Sun Staff Writer

A federal judge yesterday rejected a challenge against the Downtown Partnership in Baltimore, saying its "move-along" lTC policy does not violate the constitutional rights of panhandlers or the homeless.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued last year, saying the policy of police and Downtown Partnership security guards amounted to harassment. Baltimore and its Police Department settled the ACLU's claims with a promise to educate officers and allow the organization to monitor arrests.

The ACLU also had argued that street people are intimidated by the Downtown Partnership's uniformed guards, often assuming that they have police authority.

Rejecting that argument, U.S. District Judge Frederic N. Smalkin said the guards do not look like police and have no police powers. He said the Downtown Partnership has taken steps to educate its security force with the objective of helping street people. In an earlier phase of the suit, Judge Smalkin had found the city's panhandling ordinance unconstitutional, saying it singled out homeless people and beggars.

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