This is a federal lawsuit against the City of Cranston over an anti-panhandling ordinance enacted by the City Council in 2017.  The suit was filed on behalf of Francis White, Jr., who is disabled and formerly homeless, as well as the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP) and two Cranston residents – Karen Rosenberg and Deborah Flitman.  The suit argues that the ordinance violates the First Amendment right of individuals to solicit donations and distribute literature on Cranston roadways.   In April 2016, the ACLU favorably settled a lawsuit against Cranston over a similar ordinance that barred the solicitation of donations from motorists. In that settlement, the City acknowledged that the ordinance violated the First Amendment and halted its enforcement. The 2017 ordinance makes several cosmetic revisions to the original in an attempt to pass constitutional muster.

Current Status: In August 2017, Judge William Smith issued a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of the ordinance.



Lynette Labinger

Date filed

July 18, 2017