October 23, 2018
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City pays woman $89K in suit challenging panhandling measure

CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire city has paid $89,000 to settle a woman’s federal lawsuit challenging an anti-panhandling ordinance after a judge ruled such measures are a direct violation of the First Amendment.

Theresa Petrello, an Army and Navy veteran who has panhandled to make ends meet, sued the city of Manchester after police cited her for disorderly conduct. A federal judge in September ordered the city and several others to cease the enforcement of unconstitutional ordinances that ban individuals from receiving charitable contributions from individuals in motor vehicles.

Signs have been installed across Manchester urging people not to give money to panhandlers and warning that a handout could lead to a lethal overdose.

Police Chief Nick Willard previously wrote a letter to the community saying donations are better directed to agencies that deal with homelessness, mental illness and addiction.

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