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ACLU pitches its tent in town



All James Joel was looking for was a warm place to sleep. But his March 2 arrest by Orlando police who threw him in jail after finding him asleep on a heat grate near Wall Street and Magnolia Avenue downtown has provided the ACLU with the ammunition it needed to take its first action against the city's inhumane handling of the homeless.

The ACLU is sponsoring the lawsuit filed last week by Orlando attorney Steve Mason charging that the city's "camping" ordinance is unconstitutional. And local ACLU members are considering backing David Wasserman, a local First Amendment attorney, in a lawsuit aimed at the city's panhandling ordinance.

Meanwhile, the April 1998 issue of Harper's magazine includes a two-page feature advising the world: "Orlando's poor laws attempt to regulate the homeless away."

How about that for great publicity?