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Nicholas Sharpnack spent Thursday evening panhandling near an off ramp in Sacramento. His sign read, "hungry homeless."

He does what he can to get by.

"For the time being it helps, it's what I got for now," Sharpnack said. "I can focus and get my head on straight. I don't like it but it helps me get by."

Homeless advocates in Sacramento have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city to overturn the panhandling ordinance passed in November that affects people like Sharpnack.

The 12-page civil lawsuit claims the ordinance violates the first amendment for people who are homeless and asking for food or money.

The suit claims the ordinance is "an extensive anti-solicitation ordinance that makes it a crime to express a need for help from others, sell things, or engage in charitable solicitation in a variety of public areas."

The suit was filed by lawyers with the ACLU of Northern California, who are representing the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness and James Clark, a well-known homeless advocate in Sacramento.

Sharpnack is against what's called aggressive panhandling defined by the city as "Aggressive or intrusive solicitation typically includes approaching or following pedestrians, the use of abusive language, unwanted physical contact, or the intentional blocking of pedestrian and vehicular traffic."

"I chose to be on a freeway off ramp not outside of a Starbucks," he added.

Sharpnack says he follows the current city ordinance which says it's unlawful to panhandle within 30 feet from businesses, ATMS, banks or bus stops.

Sharpnack said he has no problem following the rule, but he was happy to hear a federal lawsuit was filed against the City to overturn that ordinance.

"There's a right way to go about things and a wrong way to go about things and I believe that at this point, here right now, I'm going about it the right way," Sharpnack said.

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