Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Atlanta makes panhandling jailable offence

ATLANTA (AP) — Panhandling is now illegal in parts of downtown Atlanta. Mayor Shirley Franklin has signed an ordinance passed by city councillors Aug. 15. It was delivered to the city clerk Monday.
The new law is aimed at making tourist attractions, including the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, more welcoming for tourists.
Opponents included activists for the poor and civil rights groups, who complained the ordinance is a mean-spirited attempt to hide homeless people.
City council deliberations this summer inspired noisy protests, and Franklin signed the proposal Friday without making a public appearance.
Under the ordinance, beggars get a warning on the first offence and referred to social services on the second. They can do a short time in jail if they get three citations in one year.
The ordinance also outlines tougher rules for beggars citywide, making it a crime to ask for money at night or near train stations or ATMs.


Princess Pessimism said...

I didnt realize that Atlanta had such a panhandling problem....

Lindsey said...

Oh yes...I live in Atlanta and it is HUGE problem. Specifically in Undergroud which is a touristy spot. There were lots of muggings and what not. They're rennovating the whole place, it's where The World of Coke is, they're bringing new clubs in and the new Aquarium will be opening soon. They really want tourism back and as it is...you can barley walk 5 feet without someone asking for money. The homeless are all over the benches and near the foutains. It's crazy and very uncomfortable if you're a woman. But I sincerely doubt they will be able to enforce this for too long. We'll see.

sly said...

is it just a crime to ask for money? i'd love to see the way this ordinance was drafted.... (oh god, i'm such a geek.)

Jennifer said...

I tend to think that the solution to poverty is not to crack down on the poor, but to create a situation where they don't have to be poor, offer some social programs. I was in Atlanta not too long ago and we walked to Dr. King's house. The neighbourhood around it is really poor and run down, but the solution to that is to offer some free drug rehab programs, help people get back to work, perhaps a community centre to offer afterschool programs for the kids, subsidize day care, that kind of stuff.
Try panhandling, it's not fun, it's demoralising. I'd much rather get a job and be treated well by the people around me than get kicked and spit on and ignored while trying to make my living. So why do people panhandle? Because they have big big problems which won't be solved by outlawing panhandling.
My prediction is that if they enforce this bylaw without putting in any new programs to help people get off the streets and get jobs, then the number of muggings will increase.