Picture this: Four indigent people passively solicit contributions from pedestrians near Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis. While they display signs asking for funds, they are not aggressive in nature and do not seek funds from people who are driving by. Therefore, they are not violating any laws and their activity is fully protected by the First Amendment. Yet, when this actually occurred, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ordered them to move.
The First Amendment protects the rights of people asking for help or contributions or seeking employment.
In August 2013, the ACLU of Indiana filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the four individuals and others experiencing similar problems. The case, Tina Morris, et al. v. City of Indianapolis, et al., sought to vindicate a right that is fundamentally important to everyone—from Salvation Army bell ringers and businesses that wave signs on street corners to children selling lemonade from sidewalk stands. In April 2014, a federal judge ordered the case settled and the City to pay the plaintiffs' legal fees and other costs.