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East Texas city council wants all drug dealers rounded up and presented in council meeting

This is a tall order. But one that at least one city council member in Jasper, Texas thinks is possible.

"Apparently, we have a meth problem in Jasper," District 1 Councilman Alton Scott said in this week's meeting of the city council of the small East Texas city's governing body. "And if a 28-year-old man, young black man, can OD on meth and cocaine, then we got a problem".

Councilman Scott went on to say that he would like every drug dealer in the city of Jasper and in Jasper County identified, and brought in front of the City Council and the Commissioners Court so that people can see what's going on. Scott also said he wants to see the drug problem in this area completely cleaned up.

That really simplifies things.

Also during the meeting, the Jasper city council passed an ordinance that will make it illegal for people to beg for money. This action will help curb the drug problem in Jasper, council members determined. And so Jasper now outlaws panhandling, which is the practice of begging for money in public places. The issue passed with a unanimous vote and will go into effect immediately.

This may entice an unwelcome visit to Jasper from the ACLU. (American Civil Liberties Union). Over the last several months, the American Civil Liberties Union has been challenging many of those new and newly enforced laws around the country.

Not only is it suing Worcester, Mass over its two anti-begging ordinances, last month it sued Portland, Maine, over an ordinance forbidding loitering in medians. In Indianapolis, the ACLU is suing the city for ordering panhandlers to leave downtown city streets. In Slidell, Louisiana, the group has sent a letter to the police department saying it is unlawfully arresting beggars. In Michigan and Arizona, the organization has challenged state laws criminalizing panhandling in public places. While the Maine and Indiana lawsuits are ongoing, a federal judge in Arizona and a federal court of appeals in Michigan ruled that the anti-panhandling laws in both states were unconstitutional on free speech grounds.

“In some ways, it’s surprising that cities are trying to enforce these laws and pass them,” says Miriam Aukerman, an ACLU staff attorney in Michigan. Aukerman says that every federal appellate court so far has ruled begging constitutional.

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