Constitutional Law

Man Is Jailed for Charging Cellphone In Park Picnic Area of City That Offers Free Charges for E-Cars

For those who own electric cars, the city of Sarasota, Fla., offers free electricity at vehicle charging stations throughout the city.

But a homeless man was arrested Sunday after a police officer spotted him charging his cellphone at a strip of electrical outlets in a picnic shelter in a public park a little after 9 p.m., the Herald-Tribune reports.

Unable to make the $500 bail for the utilities theft misdemeanor, Darren Kersey, 28, spent the night in jail before a circuit court judge dismissed the case, saying that it lacked legal justification.

Such discrepancies in treatment of those who have money and those who don’t have caught the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has repeatedly done battle with the city on its handling of issues related to the homeless, the newspaper notes. Other individuals who were charging their cellphones at the same park on Monday pointed out to the newspaper that there are no signs prohibiting their doing so and said they need the devices to be able to call 911 and keep in touch with family.

In response to previous ACLU litigation, the city is revising its trespassing law, the article says.

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