Baltimore Officials Debate Cracking Down On Panhandling
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Cracking down on panhandling. Baltimore City leaders can ban begging for money close to city restaurants and shops.
Christie Ileto explains why some say this proposal lacks focus on their real issues on Baltimore City streets.
Soliciting money near Baltimore City restaurants, shops and parking meters could soon be against the law.
“There ought to be a distance, a safe distance before [panhandlers] can approach,” said City Councilmember Rochelle Spector.
Spector says the proposal is about public safety. But for homeless person Darrell Johnson, begging for money is a typical day.
The proposal heading to the City Council next month bans begging for money 10 feet from restaurants and shops and five feet from parking meters.
Johnson makes his post by City Police headquarters.
“We’re not out here robbing, not stealing, shooting, selling drugs. We’re asking for help, so I don’t see what’s the big deal about it,” he said.
City law already prohibits aggressive panhandling anywhere, especially when people are driving or riding in cars.
Downtown business leaders say this proposal eases patrons’ concerns.
“We’re just asking for respect for those people who don’t have the opportunity to move away when being asked for money,” said Kirby Fowler, Downtown Partnership.
But opponents say this proposal isn’t tackling the right issue.
“What we should really be focused on is ending the need for solicitation by ending poverty and really ending homelessness,” said Adam Schneider.
“It ain’t going to stop me,” Johnson said. “I got a $100 fine already and I don’t care. I’ve got to pay where I sleep at some, and I’m going to continue to panhandle.”
The proposal heads to full council on Nov. 4. Free speech groups argue the proposal could be unconstitutional.
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