Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.


Misdemeanor charges dropped against NU faculty for activity during pro-Palestinian encampment
City Council approves $2 million grant application to renovate Hilda’s Place, talks Evanston Dog Beach accessibility access
City Council expands guaranteed income program, exempts athletic fields from leaf blower ordinance
Body recovered in Lake Michigan, EPD examining identity of body
Evanston’s ‘Seeds of Change’ theme inspires unity at Fourth of July parade
Lawsuit against Pritzker School of Law alleges its hiring process discriminates against white men
Evanston Fire concludes recovery search and rescue efforts for missing swimmer after ‘exhausting’ all resources
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Independent review of athletics department released, puts forth key recommendations

Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site

June 25, 2024

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

June 13, 2024


The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Justice is ignored in council’s approval of panhandling limits

Managing Editor Denis Theriault is a Medill senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

In a gutless and unprincipled move aimed less at justice than at re-election in April, eight of the city’s nine aldermen on Monday approved a panhandling ordinance that severely limits free speech in Evanston.

In passing this law, those aldermen decided truth and compassion were less important than the complaints of senior citizens and others who said they were being “terrorized” by people asking them for money.

“I’m willing to invoke some controls over free speech,” said Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th), who apparently puts more stock in the groundless fears of senior citizens and the dollars of North Shore snobs than compassion for those who don’t have the social capital to twist an alderman’s ear.

“I don’t want to be emptying my pocket on a regular basis,” he added.

They also put their stamp on a law that allows police and residents to engage in racial-profiling, something that at least one alderman was willing to acknowledge Monday night.

“Nobody wants to say that, but that’s what it will amount to,” said Ald. Dennis Drummer (2nd).

Drummer’s vote? Aye.

“It’s a matter of economics,” he said — perhaps thinking of the street traffic outside his own small business, Drummer Drapery Service — when explaining why he lent his support to the measure.

This debate — driven by injustice, intolerance, hypocrisy and money — proves just how soulless this council was.

Ald. Arthur Newman (1st) compared a panhandler’s telling a passer-by he’s just gotten out of jail to someone shouting “fire” in a theater. “That’s designed to induce fear. That’s not about expressing an idea,” Newman said.

Ald. Joseph Kent (5th) disagreed: “‘I just got out of prison’ always meant to me, ‘I just got out of prison.'”

Then Kent voted for the ordinance — despite his concerns that it would target blacks and violate the First Amendment.

Some aldermen seemed to think the ordinance was a good way to shove Evanston’s “urban problems” on its neighbors.

“(A panhandler’s) going to realize there are downtowns in Wilmette, Winnetka and Kenilworth,” Bernstein said. “I’m hopeful that’s going to happen.”

Bernstein even admitted that he thought the ordinance was “repugnant.”

“But other options are worse,” he said.

Worse, and no doubt even more unconstitutional.

“Panhandling is like drug dealing,” Drummer said. “We can be as liberal as we want to be about this. (But) their rights are not greater than mine. These people are breaking the law.”

Well now they are, thanks to City Council.

The only alderman showing any moral decency during this travesty was Ald. Stephen Engelman (7th).

By logging the lone vote against the ordinance, Engelman was the only aldermen willing to back up his convictions that the ordinance is discriminatory and unconstitutional — convictions that some other aldermen seemed to share, until it came time to vote.

More than anyone else during the debate, Engelman raged and raged on behalf of the constitution and the civil rights of the down and out.

But even he had to concede after hearing the ignorance spewed by his fellow aldermen.

“I’m obviously not going to change any minds,” he admitted before firing his last salvo, reiterating that the city likely would cross a constitutional line if the ordinance were approved.

That’s OK, Steve, some minds aren’t worth changing.

Or re-electing.

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Justice is ignored in council’s approval of panhandling limits