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Updated Jun 25, 2013 - 6:19 pm

ACLU sues Flagstaff over panhandling arrest

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona says it has filed a lawsuit against Flagstaff on behalf of a disabled Hopi woman who was arrested for begging.

The ACLU says the city's effort to rid streets of beggars is unconstitutional and criminalizes peaceful panhandling in public places.

Flagstaff City Attorney Michelle D'Andrea said Tuesday that the city hadn't been served with the suit yet.

ACLU officials say 77-year-old Marlene Baldwin was arrested Feb. 22 after asking an undercover Flagstaff police officer for $1.25 for bus fare.

The city adopted a policy in 2008 to remove panhandlers from downtown areas by jailing them early in the day on ``loitering to beg'' charges.

The ACLU says 135 arrests were made by Flagstaff police under that statute between June 2012 and last month.

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