“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: My friend and I were leaving a local grocery store in Red Wing and noticed a man walking around vehicles in the parking lot; he then approached us asking for money. What is the law in Red Wing regarding this type of behavior?

A: Thank you for your question, and if you observe suspicious activity, I always encourage individuals to call the non-emergency number at 651-385-3155 and report the observed behavior.

In the situation you describe, the parking lot is private property; therefore letting the store manager know is a good first step to ensure the individual did not receive permission to solicit at that location. Depending on the conduct/behavior, the solicitor could also be violating other laws such as disorderly conduct or stalking. Some panhandlers have also caused such fear in customers that the property owner may have trespassed the person from their property and police will be able to verify if the individual is trespassing or not.

The Supreme Court has also ruled that panhandling is a form of charitable solicitation on behalf of the individual and constitutionally protected speech. Solicitation on public property alone is not illegal. This has resulted in some communities creating laws that restrict “aggressive solicitation” and soliciting during hours of darkness.

City of Red Wing Code Section 6.22, which covers solicitors, applies only to those individuals that are selling a product or service, and does not cover donations of money with no exchange of goods or services. Minnesota Statute 169.22 Hitchhiking, Solicitation of Business makes it illegal to stand in a roadway for the solicitation from the occupants of vehicles.

Based on our discussion of panhandlers and solicitation, there may be different applications of the law that will apply; therefore it is always a good idea to talk with an attorney prior to participating in panhandling or solicitation. Police can also check on panhandling behavior to ensure it is compliant with local laws.

References

  1. The Conversation, Most Panhandling Laws are Unconstitutional Since there is no Freedom of Speech, located on line at: https://theconversation.com/most-panhandling-laws-are-unconstitutional-since-theres-no-freedom-from-speech-92498
  2. Minnesota Statute, 169.22, Hitchhiking, Solicitation of Business. Located online at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/169.22
  3. Red Wing City Code, Section 6.22 Peddlers, Solicitors, Transient Merchant. Located online at http://lf.ci.red-wing.mn.us/weblink/0/doc/158117/Page1.aspx