Arrested panhandler fights city’s law, saying it violated his free speech right

More than 100 people have run afoul of Pompano Beach’s ban on street solicitation in recent years, leading to a string of arrests and citations. But for one arrested homeless man, it has become a battleground for repealing the law that landed him behind bars.

Bernard McDonald, a homeless and disabled laborer, is suing the city, alleging his right to free speech was violated when a deputy arrested him. In August 2018, he was begging for money at Federal Highway and Sample Road, holding a cardboard sign that read, “Homeless, please help me if you can.” The Sheriff’s Office arrested him for violating the city’s rules on panhandling. The charge was “street solicitation,” according to county records.

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