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Get Them Out of Here

With the nice weather we had on Wednesday some friends and I decided to hang out downtown for drinks and getting caught up.  As we were sitting outside at a restaurant  on Washington street we were approached several times by people begging for money.  In addition, while walking over to meet my friends I had to deal with people sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against buildings and some even asleep on the street.

No offense, but I thought the Final Four was coming to town and the last thing Indianapolis needs is to have its dirty laundry just hanging out for everyone to see.  yes, I said dirty laundry.  When you have company come over don’t you pick up your trash or do you just leave a mess lying around?   The city should do the same.

As much as I find them annoying I can deal with panhandlers and beggars by telling them to get lost or playing with their heads and asking them for change.  But visitors shouldn’t have to deal with these people.  And we are not talking about the homeless.    Ask any expert and they will tell you that homelessness and panhandling are two different things.

The city needs to step up and get these nuisances and eye sores out of downtown.  I don’t care if they use spray or a hose, but these guys need to go and go now.

  • IndyGuy

    As I passed the Conrad yesterday, one of the front door attendants had to confront a panhandler who was bothering people eating outdoors at the restaurant. He got a little beligerent, too, with the attendant, which is sad. They were bad yesterday….one on every corner downtown – literally. Either shaking cups or asking for a handout. For all Indianapolis is doing to polish up the town for this weekend, this is one area that needs some work. We should have a few more police walking around and moving them along.

  • pascal

    The poor we will always have with us. The proper thing to do is to send Wilson some money to print up cards for us to hand out so that these folks would know where to go to obtain those 10,000 high paying jobs that he keeps lying about AND that they could walk to.

  • wilson46201

    Mayor Ballard would be more appropriately handing out such cards — he was pushing the Cultural Trail as another part of his great success in job creation.

  • Think Again

    LOl at Wilson and Pascal.

    I'm with you on this one, Abdul…but I don't have an asnwer. They're an eyesore, and we ened to take care of those who truly cnanot help themselves. I have a friend who's worked with the Homeless Coalition here for years, and they sometimes fele like they're beating their heads against the wall. A truly difficult problem.

    Wilson, I saw Ballard on TV yesterday. Wearing a Butler T-shirt at a rally. Good Lord, Mayor, dial in a salad. Or a bigger t-shirt. Wow. Definitely NOT homeless and hungry.

  • Hector

    Marvin Scott, candidate for 7th District Congress, has proposed sending poor people to camps in rural areas. I think that is a tad bit drastic but the city needs to work on this problem. It did not just crop up this weekend. Those of us who live or work downtown know that it goes on every day. The Wheeler Mission is one problem but they fail to work to address it. The other problem is the do gooders who come to downtown handing out free food. Their intentions are good but this should be done through agencies and shelters and not in our downtown parks.

  • IndyErnie

    I agree that the beggars need to go away. Nothing will happen until the patrons complain or quit going to the establishments downtown. If the business owners would band together the city would have to step in.
    The panhandling on E Washington and I465 as all but disappeared. It took constant calls to IMPD and insistent pleas for officers to be dispatched but the effort paid off.
    When downtown and confronted by a panhandler call IMPD and tell dispatch that you are waiting to see how long it takes for an officer to respond. It works.

  • stimy

    what would Obama do?

  • Dobie

    Freedom of speech means that people have the right to say things you would rather they didn't – including “Can I have some money”. As long as the person takes no for an answer and doesn't try to intimidate anyone, asking strangers for money is completely legal. Now that changes if someone tries to pan-handler somewhere where the owners of the property don't want people begging. Obviously property owners have the right to tell people not to beg on their property.

    What would be a lot more effective than trying to violate someone's right to freedom of speech (which legally we shouldn't be doing) is to educate the public that giving money to panhandlers isn't a good thing. That is sort of what the Mayor did when he put up donation boxes downtime to encourage people to give to charities instead of individuals. If people want to help those that truly cannot (or will not) help themselves – giving to charity means that there is a better chance the money will go meals and shelter as opposed to alcohol and drugs.

  • pascal

    Wilson46201 is a lot more jobs than Wilson10,000-has the Obama inflation hit already? If Mayor Ballard is lying about 10,000 jobs I haven't seen or heard it. If he is saying 10,000 jobs for 4.5 miles then he ought to lead the parade of beggers back to the funny farm.
    One would not need 10,000 people for 4.5 miles if the only tools they had to use were teaspoons.

  • http://twitter.com/IndyStudent Matthew Stone

    Dobie, while the situation Abdul presents us is a bit vague, freedom of speech doesn't mean you can say anything, any time,anywhere, without consequences.

    On private property, the property owner or manager has every right to tell these people to get lost*. I saw managers do this when I was still working at food/retail. They'd offer them some food for free, but then asked them to leave. Some would take it, some wouldn't, you draw your own conclusions.

    *In fact, they have the right to tell anyone to get lost for pretty much any non-discriminatory reason.

    Ultimately, it doesn't matter if they're panhandlers, genuinely homeless, disabled, or acting as one to prove a point. They're an eye sore, and citizens should feel free to call IMPD when they become a nuisance.

  • Bubba

    Bring back John Dillon.

  • Rebecca Sink-Burris

    The problem is also one of public safety, Abdul may be OK telling panhandlers to bug off, but many people do not feel quite a capable of taking care of themselves in what has become an increasingly intimidating situation. Women for the most part, do not feel safe in an area where these activities are tolerated. Panhandling and loitering are not benign activities covered by free speech. While much of the time it is not overt, there is an implied threat of force which gives society the right and even the duty to deal with the problem.

  • IndyAries

    “The counties may provide farms, as an asylum for those persons who, by reason of age, infirmity, or other misfortune, have claims upon the sympathies and aid of society.” — Article 9 Section 3

    Nothing drastic about it at all, Hector.

  • Thundermutt

    Because a significant proportion of homeless/begging people are also drug or alcohol dependent, actively resisting begging takes on a risk similar to that of staring down an unknown large dog: if he's aggressive, no one knows what might happen.

    As Rebecca has pointed out, this has far bigger personal-safety implications for women than for men. In fact, many men (like those who've posted here, including me) often consider begging as nothing more than a “nuisance”, and we ignore that to the other half of the population it is more often seen as a “threat”.

    So what do you do when your wife or girlfriend is threatened? Dismiss the issue as no big deal?

    I agree with Abdul: time to run 'em off.

  • Dobie


    If you read my post you will see that I agree with you concerning property owners having the right to prohibit people from panhandling on private property. I agree that property owners have the right to call IMPD and have people removed from their property.

    But I have to ask how is having someone ask you for money (assuming this is no attempt to intimidate – threatening people is a crime) in a public place is a crime? That is freedom of speech. How is it that different from someone who comes up to you and asks for you to sign a petition? Or give money to a charity? Or just to listen to their political view?

    I agree that having someone ask you for money can be uncomfortable. It is difficult to look someone in the eye and politely say “Sorry – but no I am not going to give you money.” It is hard to tell someone who says they are hungry that you will not give a dollar. (I am leaving aside the issue of whether they are conning you or actually are hungry). But while there is freedom of speech, there is not a freedom to never be uncomfortable.

  • Dobie

    I'm sorry, but no. You cannot prohibit freedom of speech because someone utilizing it *might* threaten someone sometime. If a panhandler actually threatens someone – that is a crime and should be treated as such. But before someone can be treated like a criminal they actually need to commit a criminal act.

  • malercous

    Perhaps we should make them into dog food. It's not like they are human or anything like that. I'm not even sure they should have a right to exist. Maybe if we convict them of a crime (say, public slovenliness or as a health hazard) and make them indentured servants whose job it is to polish the sidewalks or somesuch menial, yet beneficial task. The 13th Amen. does not prohibit this; slavery, under certain circumstances, is constitutional. Or perhaps after conviction, we neuter them and then auction them off. Just throwing out ideas here.

  • rebeccaSB

    You may want to ask some of the women or elderly that you know how they feel when walking by a group of men who are just hanging around downtown, or when approached, close enough to grab your packages or purse, by someone asking for money. I know I have been approach, in broad daylight on a busy street in what should have been a safe area, and received a threatening attitude back when I have not been forthcoming with “tribute”. Intimidation is a crime. Force or threat of force is to be used only for defense. Used to keep the streets safe for the public, all of the public, is an appropriate societal use of force. I do not have “the” answer and do not like the idea of putting people in camps or farms. Sometimes it is helpful to look at what we as a society could be doing that is acerbating the problem. I have a few ideas on that, but will save that for another post.