Federal District Court Judge Marsha Krieger issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday that prohibits Colorado Springs from enforcing its recently-passed “no solicitation zone” in the city’s downtown area.
The Colorado Springs City Council approved the ordinance, which outlaws all forms of solicitation in a 12-block area downtown, on Nov. 27. The council took the issue up after hearing complaints from downtown patrons and business owners that panhandlers were deterring people from downtown.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of several plaintiffs, including Greenpeace and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, Star Bar Players, The Denver Voice and some private citizens, the same day council approved the ordinance. The ACLU argues the ordinance violates free speech rights.
“We are delighted the Court agreed to issue a preliminary injunction of Colorado Springs’ no solicitation zone ordinance,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “The charities, musicians and others we represent will now be allowed to continue to exercise their First Amendment guarantee of free expression.”
The law was slated to go into effect today. But Krieger’s injunction means the city will not be able to enforce the law until the First Amendment lawsuit is settled in trial.
“We are disappointed in the Court’s ruling but respect the process,” City Attorney Chris Melcher said in a statement. “We will carefully review the written ruling when it is issued, likely next week. Our office will consult with City Council and the Mayor, brief them on the ruling and obtain their guidance on future actions in this matter. We continue to believe that the ordinance is constitutional and an appropriate effort by the City to protect our downtown merchants and residents, our visitors, families, and our community.”