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Eric Hoffstead, Homeless New Yorker, Wins Right To Panhandle

First Posted: 01/24/11 06:02 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET


An appellate court has upheld a homeless man's right to panhandle.

In 2006, Eric Hoffstead was arrested after he asked a New Rochelle cop for change.

The court refused to overturn a lower court's decision, which sided with Hoffstead.

"It was all about free speech," said Hoffstead's attorney, Carl Birman. "If part of [homeless people's] survival requires asking a stranger for help, that conversation should be no different from the Salvation Army standing outside with a can."

Since Hoffstead was arrested, the state has repealed the law against panhandling.

"People have the right to ask for money and help, Birman said. "It's a very important victory for the rights of the homeless."


Filed by Simon McCormack  |