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Panhandlers suing Springfield, IL for stopping them from asking for money

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Panhandlers are suing Illinois' capital city for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights to free speech by stopping them from asking for money.

The suit filed this week in federal court in Springfield says police wrongly tell panhandlers it's illegal to panhandle. If they don't leave an area, the suit says the panhandlers are sometimes arrested.

The lawsuit cites one plaintiff as making less than $25 a day panhandling with a sign reading, "Please Help Out Any Way U Can." It claims the 52-year-old has been arrested for panhandling.

Similar lawsuits have been filed across Illinois, including in Chicago.

The Springfield suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that a city law prohibiting "vocal appeals" for "immediate donations" be declared unconstitutional.

Springfield's city spokesman didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

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