Judge Defends Homeless Woman’s Right to Sit on Fifth Avenue

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Photo: iStockphoto

Police repeatedly hassled Sojourner Hardeman for sitting quietly in front of a shuttered store on Fifth Avenue, so she's taking them to court. Homeless since last September, Hardeman was arrested in March and detained, but released without charges and has been issued disorderly conduct summonses despite her lawyer's claims that "passive panhandling" is "clearly constitutionally protected." A judge has already ordered that cops leave her alone unless they have probable cause, but her lawsuit has not yet been settled.

According to Ms. Hardeman's complaint, officers approached her four times in July and ordered her to leave the spot in front of the empty storefront, at one point, saying: "You can't be here. This is Fifth Avenue."

Nothing says privilege and elegance in 2011 like boarded-up windows.

After Panhandler Says Police Harassed Her, a Judge Tells Them to Stop [NYT]