On December 6th, Oak Lawn police officers issued ordinance violations for peddling or soliciting without a license to two different people.
Myia Mack, a team leader for Vista Energy, was in the area of 87th and 50th Avenue knocking on doors of homes “soliciting business” for a gas company when a resident complained after telling Mack’s team repeatedly that she was not interested in the door to door sales.
In order to solicit door to door, companies need a permit from the village and the Mack team did not have a permit. In fact, Mack, a Chicago resident, reportedly told the police that she was unaware that they were in Oak Lawn and that a permit was needed. The police checked their records and alleged that they had informed Mack of the need for a permit in January of 2018 when she was in the area, allegedly soliciting door to door.
On that same day, Timothy Jessop, was allegedly holding a sign with the words, “Homeless Veteran-Need MONEY” scrawled upon it as he approached cars at 95th and Southwest Highway. Jesssop told the police that he was homeless. The police alleged he was argumentative and he was issued an ordinance violation for soliciting/peddling without a license.
The Village of Oak Lawn’s code defines solicitors as “Any individual, corporation, partnership, organization or other entity which seeks financial or nonfinancial support for political, charitable or other causes.” Peddlers are defined as individuals working on behalf of businesses.
Under any reading of the ordinance, the Vista Energy employees must have a permit. However, the charge against the homeless veteran is less clear. Courts have upheld the right for the homeless to panhandle. As such “begging is considered free speech”.
In the case McLaughlin v. City of Lowell, the court said, “Panhandling is not merely a minor, instrumental act of expression. … at stake is ‘the right to engage fellow human beings with the hope of
receiving aid and compassion.’”
In the homeless veteran’s case, however, the village is relying on the allegation that Jessop was soliciting drivers on the road and thereby obstructing the roadway and endangering traffic safety.