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Appeals court OKs ban against Hare Krishnas, other groups panhandling at LAX

July 7, 2010 |  6:14 pm

Almost 13 years after it was passed, police can now enforce a municipal ordinance that bans the Hare Krishnas and other groups from panhandling at Los Angeles International Airport, where travelers have complained for years about aggressive solicitors.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday lifted a preliminary injunction imposed in 1997 that stopped Los Angeles from implementing its solicitation ban against groups seeking donations, including the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California.

The Krishnas sued in federal court in May 1997, alleging that the ordinance violated state constitutional guarantees of free speech.

In their decision, justices cited a key ruling in March by the California Supreme Court, which held that solicitations of money in the terminals, parking areas and adjacent sidewalks were not protected speech under the state Constitution.

The ruling still allows groups and individuals to distribute literature and speak to willing travelers.

“This is a huge step forward in ensuring the comfort and safety of the traveling public at LAX,” said Gina Marie Lindsay, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX. “From now on the traveling public will not have to worry about solicitors asking for money.”

-- Dan Weikel