What started as just another ordinance in the war on the homeless and poor took a bizarre turn when journalist Virgil Vaduva sought to test the new rule that banned panhandling in the small town of Xenia, Ohio. The court decided that charities are prohibited from soliciting funds almost everywhere in the city.
Vaduva has made a name for himself locally by being unrelenting in his coverage and criticism of the town’s government. When he began collecting money for charity in front of the city courthouse, law enforcement and the prosecutor appear to have been so eager to strike back that they cited him for a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and then the ordinance was interpreted to pertain to collecting money for charity, despite the phrase “personal financial assistance” being in the rule.
The rule reads:
Further, PANHANDLING shall include any request for a person to purchase an item for an amount that a reasonable person would consider to be in excess of its value.
Vaduva argued this point at trial but was overruled.
Now the city has painted itself into a corner. There can an admission that Vaduva was unjustly targeted or the city must enforce the law against all other charities’ fundraising activities.
The original list of prohibited places for soliciting money was aimed at the poor and homeless; therefore, the community made it as extensive as possible. It prohibits solicitation by both verbal and written forms, or even by gesture alone. Assuming the city will not admit to targeting a critical journalist, it now has to ban the solicitation of funds for charity in all of the following situations:
(b) Panhandling restrictions and prohibitions. No person shall solicit for panhandling in any of the following manners:
(1) In any type of aggressive manner;
(2) On any private property in which there is any type of written notice prohibiting solicitation and/or panhandling;
(3) On any other private property, unless the person panhandling has obtained prior permission from the owner or occupant;
(4) From any operator or occupant of a motor vehicle or from any person entering or exiting a motor vehicle;
(5) Within 20 feet of any pedestrians waiting in line for service or waiting in line for an event;
(6) Within 20 feet of any pedestrians waiting in line to obtain access to a building;
(7) Within 20 feet of any entrance or exit of the building for any check cashing business, bank, credit union, or savings and loan during the hours of operation of any of these businesses;
(8) Within 20 feet of any automated-teller machine during its hours of operation;
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(9) At any bus stops or bus shelters;
(10) In any vehicle within the right-of-way;
(11) In any public transportation vehicle or any public transportation facility;
(12) Within 20 feet of the area of the sidewalk;
(13) Within 20 feet of the entrance or exit of any public facility;
(15) On public property within 20 feet of an entrance to a parking lot;
(16) On a public street, by intentionally or recklessly blocking the safe or free passage of a person or vehicle;
(17) In any manner which involves the use of false or misleading representations.
Door-to-door sales for school fundraisers? Prohibited.
Boy Scout popcorn sales? Prohibited.
Salvation Army bell ringers? Prohibited.
Fraternal Order of Police fundraisers at the police station? Prohibited.
Firefighters “passing the boot” for Muscular Dystrophy? Prohibited.
The extra change coin jar at gas stations? Prohibited.
Girl Scout cookie sales? Prohibited.
Toys for Tots? Prohibited.
With the restrictions that must now be imposed across the board, it is virtually impossible for any charity to conduct business in the community of Xenia.
Disclosure notice: Vaduva has in the past supplied photographs to The Anti-Media as well as assisted the author with researching the shooting of John Crawford for the outlet. He works with the author at The Fifth Column and is editor of The Greene County Herald, a media outlet catering to activists that has covered the author in the past. In short, he’s part of the new media family.
Justin King writes for TheAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in to the Anti-Media radio show Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: CounterCurrentNews.com.