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When they came for panhandlers

I said nothing because I wasn’t a panhandler. In Cincinnati, they are coming for the panhandlers through mandatory ID card registration. I’m not a terribly large fan of panhandlers, but is the solution tagging them and releasing them back into the wild?

I understand why it is necessary for people to register for drivers licenses. Driving is a privilege, not a right. But is panhandling? Surely I have the right to sit on a public street corner and, while not harassing anyone, say or do whatever I want. And certainly people have the right to give me money if they want to, so why is it that panhandlers need to register?

Cross posted from miniluv.

3 comments to When they came for panhandlers

  • CPT. Charles

    Philosophically, I would agree with your comment, however as a native Cincinnatian it’s NOT a case of ‘peaceful’ panhandling. Panhandlers in this city have grown increasingly aggressive and when you combine that with an increasing crime rate (mainly murder), the average citizen has said: ‘Enough is enough.’

    This issue is only one manifestation of a larger cultural ill that do not have time (unfortunately) to expound upon. Rest assured that this is not a case of ‘bashing the poor'; it is an attempt to rein in behavior that is only a couple of degrees away from ruffianism.

  • I won’t presume to speak for Cincinatti, but here in the UK there are major legal differences between how agressive beggars and passive beggars are treated. For the aggressive, the police have a range of options including antisocial behaviour orders and outright arrest, all of which strikes me as quite sensible.

    What bothers me though is that begging itself is a crime, so people who simply sit in doorways looking sorry for themselves can be prosecuted. Until recently this hasn’t tended to be enforced, but over the last few days I’ve been reading about police in Manchester and Bristol (I’ll add links if I can find them again) prosecuting non-aggressive beggars ‘for their own good’.

  • Charles, I understand your point, and for the most part agree with it. I just don’t agree with the way it is being addressed. If a beggar is being aggressive or harrassing someone, surely there is another law that can be used to correct the problem. Why resort to ID cards? And what would the ID cards do anyway? It would be an excuse to arrest an aggressive panhandler. But it would also be an excuse to arrest a passive panhandler.

    I agree with the intent, but not the way it is being done. If there is no other law on the book that they can arrest an aggressive panhandler with, make one. Resorting to ID cards seems like the wrong way to combat the problem.