Nanny State

Arresting Panhandlers Gets Flagstaff, AZ, Sued on Free Speech Grounds

They're just asking, folks

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I enjoyed the years I lived in Flagstaff. Being able to snowshoe or mountain bike from the front door of my rented condo into the forest was a very pleasant way of breaking up a telecommuting day. Bicycling to one of the brewpubs in town wasn't too shabby, either. But, like a lot of college towns, Flagstaff's elected leaders considered leaving people alone to live their own lives to be an archaic practice best left to the rubes. The city has a formal 25-year plan for how the city should look in the future, the dynamic flow of life be damned. When it became clear that displaying naughty bits (whether your own or somebody else's) for money was a viable business venture in an area desperate for economic opportunity, urban leaders decreed the necessity of intrusive background checks and licensing. And now Flagstaff faces a lawsuit after rather too enthusiastically tossing people in the pokey for criminally asking passers-by for spare change.