Panhandling targeted during downtown meeting

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Downtown business owners and others met Wednesday night at the Center City Commission to strategize their renewed fight against aggressive panhandling.

"It's a constant complaint from tourists, the locals, every single day," said business owner Shawn Danko.

They are putting pressure on the Memphis City Council to pass a proposed ordinance limiting where panhandlers can ask for hand-outs.  Such places include areas in front of businesses and near trolley stops.

They are also close to possibly closing the door on the sale of single servings of beer along Main Street and elsewhere.  Critics say the alcohol fuels much the of problem.

"We're all affected by the aggressive pan-handling downtown and the lawless behavior in part due to single serve beer," says Danko.

Admitted panhandler Dewayne Johnson believes a few problem panhandlers give others a bad name.

"Like when you rush a man, ask him for money, beg him, and try to beat him up," said Johnson.

He said people already have the power to stop panhandling by refusing to hand over their cash.

"It's up to man who want to give you money to give you money," said Johnson.

Business owners and others would rather restrict the areas from where pan-handlers can ask.

Homeless advocates are among those who oppose panhandling restrictions.  And beer companies do not want the sale of single servings to cease.  Both issues will be up for discussion by the Memphis City Council beginning next Tuesday.

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