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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Panhandlers are suing Illinois' capital city for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights to free speech by stopping them from asking for money.

The suit filed this week in federal court in Springfield says police wrongly tell panhandlers it's illegal to panhandle. If they don't leave an area, the suit says the panhandlers are sometimes arrested.

The lawsuit cites one plaintiff as making less than $25 a day panhandling with a sign reading, "Please Help Out Any Way U Can." It claims the 52-year-old has been arrested for panhandling.

Similar lawsuits have been filed across Illinois, including in Chicago.

The Springfield suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that a city law prohibiting "vocal appeals" for "immediate donations" be declared unconstitutional.

Springfield's city spokesman didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:16
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ST. CHARLES, Ill. (AP) - Three courthouses in Kane County are open again after being evacuated due to bomb threats.

The Kane County Sheriff's Office says on its Twitter account that the courthouses were reopened Wednesday afternoon and "no suspicious items were found." Lt. Pat Gengler is with the Kane County Sheriff's Office. He says officers were investigating "a series of bomb threats" made against the three separate courthouses.

The facilities evacuated Wednesday morning include the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles and the Elgin Branch Court in Elgin. Also the Kane Branch Court and Kane County Clerk's office, which are in the same building in St. Charles.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:14
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A strip club in East St. Louis could be facing harsh penalties after a fatal shooting over the weekend.

Police say 20-year-old Kenneth Richards was shot and killed in the parking lot of Denese's Place late Saturday night. The club has had its liquor license suspended until the results of a hearing that takes place Wednesday at 2:30 PM. Officials say the hearing could result in more penalties.

Police meanwhile continue their search for an SUV involved in the shooting. The vehicle is described as a white GMC Yukon or Suburban. Anyone with information is asked to  call Crimestoppers at (866) 371-TIPS (8477).

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 13:08
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In Champaign, this Bud lab's for you! The world's largest brewer has announced it is headed to school.  Anheuser-Busch InBev is opening a data analytics center called "Bud Lab" at the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign. The company says the lab will study "assortment optimization" along with social media and market trends and other "large-scale data initiatives."  So far, the facility has several interns, most of whom have backgrounds in statistics and industrial engineering. Officials say that future student workers will most likely be those studying math, business and computer science.

Wednesday, 04 September 2013 10:19
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