City settles panhandling lawsuit at undisclosed amount

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you drive around Albuquerque, you have likely seen Jeffrey Seymour panhandling. One of his favorite spots is a median on Coors.

After getting arrested time and time again, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department.

“You should be allowed to be out here holding our signs as long as you’re not being aggressive,” said another panhandler.

At the time he filed the lawsuit, other panhandlers supported his cause.

In the suit, Seymour argued that his constitutional rights were violated when APD cited and charged him for panhandling, more than 15 times under the old ordinance that banned panhandlers from medians and curbs if they blocked traffic.

While the city’s new ordinance is more specific, it is heading toward a legal battle as well.

“From a legal perspective, it is just downright unconstitutional,” said Maria Martinez-Sanchez in an interview in early January about the lawsuit the ACLU filed against the city over the city’s new pedestrian safety ordinance.

The ACLU said although it does not specifically mention panhandlers, it directly targets them.

“They aren’t fooling anyone,” said Maria Martinez-Sanchez.

A city councilor that spoke to News 13 said this settled lawsuit has no bearing on the new ordinance. The ordinance specifically bans people from standing in specific places, like freeway off-ramps and medians without sidewalks and bans people from any physical interaction or exchange with drivers at any off-ramp or intersection, all in the name of safety.

The city attorney’s office would not disclose how much it has settling for, but a spokesperson for the city said the lawsuit was settled through the city’s claims review board.

A spokesperson for APD said for the time being, they have been told to give warning and educate people about the new law.

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