Panhandlers could face fine in downtown Baton Rouge

Louisiana Politics
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 7:02pm

A proposed ordinance could make it hard for folks to hit you up for money in the downtown area.

The Downtown Development District is trying to get rid of panhandlers in the Capitol City. Those are people who ask for cash in the streets.

Officials say panhandling has become a problem, and that's why they're cracking down.

But some residents say -- it's really doesn't bother them.

"I guess it is fine with me because we are in America and they can ask for what they want,” Joshua Sartin, Baton Rouge resident, says.

“If they're not legit ad they're just out there and they already have money and they're just out there begging or getting drugs or something, I think they should be involved and try to get something done about it," Vertrice Lewis, another resident, says.

In contrast, we asked our Facebook fans what they think about the ordinance.

“When I worked downtown, I would avoid going to lunch at certain places because of constantly being bombarded by people asking for handouts,” Stacie Fortenberry Coleman, a fan of NBC33 on Facebook, wrote. “And don’t make the mistake of giving to them once, they remember your face!”

“I am sorry, but yesterday afternoon on my way back to work, I had a man jump in front of my car, waving me down,” Joseph Kora, another fan, wrote about his personal experience. “He wanted to ‘borrow’ $20. He had one hand in his pocket, and was threatening in demeanor. This is not a slight annoyance. The homeless population has attempted rapes, stolen, and vandalized those of us who live and work downtown. Parts of this population are criminals who threaten safety and security to the visitors, workers and residents of downtown.

If the ordinance passes, panhandlers could face a $500 fine. The measure goes before the full Downtown Development District on Thursday, Jan. 12.

We want to know what you think. Log on to the NBC33 Facebook page and tell us your thoughts on the proposed ordinance.

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