CHICAGO – A federal judge said a panhandler can sue a private security firm for allegedly violating his First Amendment rights by stopping him from asking passers-by for money at a public square in Chicago.
Companies can tell beggars to leave private property, but laws bar government officers from forcing panhandlers to leave public places.
Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer’s ruling in Chicago said Securitas Security Services guards act as government surrogates at Daley Plaza and so can be liable for violations of free-speech rights.
Kim Pindak’s suit alleges there’s a de facto “blanket prohibition on peaceful panhandling” at the plaza and that Securitas helps enforce it.
The late Monday ruling also allows the suit to continue against the Cook County Sheriff’s Department.
Securitas spokeswoman Lynne Glovka said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.