Atlanta Officials Weigh Panhandling Ban
By KRISTEN WYATT
Associated Press Writer
July 18, 2005
ATLANTA -- A proposed ban on panhandling in downtown Atlanta was postponed again Monday after a city council meeting marked by hissing and shouting by opponents of the measure.
Because the issue has been so heated, police officers were posted outside council chambers. Although no scuffles broke out, a public comment period was fiery from the start. Council President Lisa Borders had to shush the shouting crowd even before the meeting began.
Later, when people got a chance to address the council, many of them painted the ordinance as evil, even an affront to God.
"You're going to answer to a divine authority!" shouted the Rev. Richard Cobble of Concerned Black Clergy, waving a finger at the council as he accused them of targeting the poor.
The proposal would make it illegal to beg for money near downtown hotels or tourist sites. On a third offense, beggars could be jailed or fined.
The plan has sparked intense opposition from advocates for the poor and civil rights groups. On the other side are downtown business owners, who say aggressive beggars are keeping people away from the central business district.
Opponents described it as a civil rights issue, because many of the downtown beggars are black.
Anthony Foster, who identified himself as homeless, told the council, "I do not see many Caucasian homeless people."
Only a handful of people spoke in favor of the ban.
"Every day when I get up in the morning and walk my dog, I'm hit up five or six times for money," said Jonathan Lance, who said his piece and then left the meeting after being jeered.
After about five hours of public comment, the council voted 8-7 to table the question. No date was set for it to be considered again.
The city council considered, but did not vote on, the ban last month, and a committee considering the plan has also held lengthy hearings.
Charge 'em with loitering.
This is Atlanta. They cater to bums. Nice to see the crackheads and lazy asses of Atlanta streets have enough energy to go to a city council meeting. Maybe they should take that energy and get a job.
Atlanta city council is a f@#kin joke , nothing more than a bunch of liberal pussies!
Sounds like a waste of time to me. Eat up more of the police officers time
I visited Atlanta on business last year for a few days and I couldn't even walk around the city without guys wanting to sell me 'information'. It was the most aggressive panhandling I have ever experienced and definitely tainted my perception of the city. The would come after me from way across the street and some would follow me for a block or me even though I told them to get lost. It wasn't just me either. Kinda hard to have compassion for a guy that asks you to give him a reason to kill you once you tell him you aren't giving him anything.
I've been to Atlanta on a few occasions and the panhandlers will wear your ass out. Damn, I hate a fucking bum. Most of those assholes are perfectly capable of working, too.
Lets see , Panhandling ban bill would be good for bussnesses , tourist and working joes . No we rather side with the crackheads and bums . WTF
Boy does that take the cake, the one and only time I was in Atlanta, I was hit up I don't know how many times. This one guy kept on asking for money for some greasy stuff for his burns, I told him I didn't have any money, which I didn't, but then he followed me everywhere I went until I went back to the hotel. He was just waiting for someone to come out of the hotel to hit them up. Truckloads of cops were around, but they all kept on driving by. I did see one white begger get arrested by one of the McD's. If they are so determined to get money, why don't they have them working for the .gov as a tax collector or a meter maid.
Note to self: make sure you are carrying when you are in Atlanta, never know when you will get to a car wash or see some bums and have to draw down on them
I would have went to more places if I wasn't harrased everywhere I went, only really got to go to CNN and the World of Coke, of course I was at a conference, but I did have time for more stuff. After being tailed everywhere I went, I only stuck to eating in the hotel or the peachtree mall that was connected to it, never ventured out unless there was like a group of us walking.
I haven't been in Atlanta in years, but when I was a kid, my dad and brother and I were trying to find the Omni building, to go to the Braves Store. We stopped on the street so dad could ask two guys for directions, and they both took off running as soon as he shouted to them.
They say they will vote on it tomorrow
Vote on Atlanta Panhandling Ban Draws Homeless, Advocates to Steps of City Hall
By Errin Haines Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 14, 2005
ATLANTA (AP) - Dozens of opponents of a proposed ban on panhandling near downtown hotels and tourists sites gathered on the steps of City Hall late Sunday for an all-night protest ahead of Monday's expected vote.
The resolution would make it illegal to beg for money in those areas, and a third offense could lead to jail time or fines.
Downtown business owners say aggressive beggars are keeping people away from the central business district.
But the protesters say the city is taking the wrong approach. Instead of a ban, they say, the city needs to get closer to the heart of the problem by offering affordable housing and a living wage for the area's homeless.
Activists, legislators and the homeless decided to protest by sleeping at City Hall on the eve of the vote, which was delayed last month after a meeting devolved into shouting matches and hissing from critics.
Ronald Lee, who said he had been homeless in Atlanta for eight months, told others at the protest that the city's homeless are not so predatory that a ban is necessary.
"They ask, and if the offer isn't there, they leave. It's far from out of control," said the 48-year-old Washington, D.C., native. "If someone wants to assist you, I don't see a problem with it."
The proposed ban has some strong supporters. Last month, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who is bankrolling the $200 million Georgia Aquarium being built downtown, said the attractions success depends on the ban passing. The billionaire philanthropist said he had also donated $600,000 to a homeless shelter in the city.
Some critics cite big business in the city as part of the problem, saying the partnership between the commercial and black communities of the past three decades is now out of balance.
"This is really about poor, black men. We're bad for business," said Joe Beasley, who heads the regional office of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
AAARRGGHH!! Assholes! People make me so damn angry sometimes.
Beavis: Ummmm, hey Butthead, what's a panhandler?
Butthead: Uhhhhhhhhhhh, you know. It's those dudes who like, uhhhhhhhhhh, stand around....you know, handling their pan. Uh huh huh huh huh.
Beavis: Awwwwww yeah, I'll be damned. Hih hih hih.
Looks like they passed a minimally restricting ordinance
Atlanta puts heat on panhandlers
By Larry Copeland and Charisse Jones
ATLANTA — Many cities trying to revitalize their downtowns have wrestled with the problem of homeless beggars.
But those cities are not the celebrated birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. Their names are not synonymous with black political power, and their leaders have not pinned hopes for revival on a giant new aquarium whose owner wants a ban on aggressive panhandling.
So it was Monday that a City Council hearing on a proposal to limit begging in parts of downtown carried a special resonance. The fiery, revival-style meeting exposed raw passions that led to accusations of racism and elitism by the proposal's opponents and charges by its supporters that some of the most aggressive beggars aren't even homeless.
The proposal, which the council adopted Monday night on a 12-3 vote, is supported by Mayor Shirley Franklin, the downtown business establishment and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who is building the $200 million Georgia Aquarium downtown without public money.
Opponents include advocates for the homeless and residents and businesses in some other sections of the city, who fear that a crackdown in the central business district will push homeless people into other neighborhoods. Atlanta police arrested two opponents and escorted several others from the chamber after the council's vote.
A sharp dispute
At Monday's hearing, speakers on both sides of the proposal invoked King's name and offered starkly different assessments of the issue.
"Downtown today can be hostile," said Greg Jones, a spokesman for Georgia State University who supports the ban. "Around any corner and along any stretch of sidewalk, you likely will be accosted by a man, woman or group."
Some advocates for the homeless said complaints about panhandlers are overblown. "There is no data to back up any of the fear-mongering," said Anita Beatty, executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. "The real issue here is the business community exaggerating people's fear in order to sweep the city clean of poor African-American males. It's a racist, classist agenda."
Anti-panhandling measures like Atlanta's have been on the rise around the nation, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, based in Washington, D.C.:
• In April, city commissioners in Miami Beach upheld a law barring panhandlers from asking for money within 20 feet of a restaurant.
• Portland, Ore., tried in December to deal with downtown panhandlers by enforcing a law restricting where people can sit and place their belongings on sidewalks.
• A push to rid downtown San Francisco of aggressive panhandlers and people who sleep on sidewalks has pushed some homeless people into parks and onto beaches.
"The most common law that targets homeless people is some version of a panhandling law, whether it's aggressive panhandling or saying you can only panhandle in certain areas of a city," says Michael Stoops, acting executive director of the national homeless coalition.
Such measures are often pushed by businesses that don't want panhandlers to scare away customers and by city officials who want to draw visitors to such attractions as sports arenas or entice the affluent to move downtown and into gentrifying areas.
That's the case here.
The city has launched a tourism-based effort to revive a moribund downtown. Its centerpiece is the Georgia Aquarium, which will boast 100,000 fish, two beluga whales and guest dining directed by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck when it opens Nov. 23.
Officials have tried for decades to find the magic formula that will lure people downtown. Several ventures — including Underground Atlanta, now a faded shopping mall — have been unable to consistently draw people. Marcus has said the revitalization plan's success depends on banning begging.
"If we don't make a dent in the aggressive panhandling, it's all for nothing," said A.J. Robinson, president of the downtown business group Central Atlanta Progress. "We think we have crafted an ordinance that is balanced in its approach and is constitutional. People in the community are just tired of (panhandlers)."
Targeting tourism area
The proposal makes it illegal to ask for money or valuables in a "tourist triangle" that includes most downtown hotels and tourist sites. The city has an estimated 7,000-12,000 homeless, most of them African-American men, according to Crossroads Community Ministries, which works to move Atlanta's homeless of the streets and toward self-sufficiency.
Some supporters of the ordinance said it is not directed at all homeless people. "I'm just asking that the council separates their good and legitimate concern for homeless people from the ban on offensive, aggressive panhandling," said Jones of Georgia State.
Opponents said the proposal is mean-spirited. "Why do we need to keep on criminalizing people who are poor?" asked Atlanta resident Steve Carr.
Clarence Davis, who is homeless, invoked the Bible: "All through the Bible, they were begging. Begging was way back there in the Bible days."
Robinson of Central Atlanta Progress said the proposal is aimed at "about 100 hard-core, aggressive panhandlers" who aren't even homeless.
Indeed, Stoops said, panhandlers are not necessarily homeless. But he said ordinances fail to address the larger circumstances that may prompt people to panhandle.
"Making it illegal to panhandle is not the solution," he said. "Maybe we should ask why someone is on the streets begging for spare change in the first place."
Jones reported from New York
And yet a white male (usually) couldn't get "assistance" from the Government if he was on fire and that "assistance" was Government pissing on him to put it out.
But if you're non-white or better yet, illegal, you can get all sorts of handouts.
By all accounts there were several panhandlers right there, and reporters too
why didn't he ask them then, could it be because he already knows the answer?