New law addresses panhandling in Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New law addresses panhandling in Memphis

Keith Harwell is charged with aggressive panhandling. (Source: SCSO) Keith Harwell is charged with aggressive panhandling. (Source: SCSO)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Investigators said officers kicked Keith Harwell off Beale Street after they told him to stop asking people for money several times. 

Police said he ignored the demands every time. Once he was arrested, police said, he threatened to shoot them. 

To address this issue, a new Tennessee law took effect on July 1. 

The misdemeanor violation of aggressive panhandling in Tennessee went from a simple city citation to a state misdemeanor with a maximum $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for a second offense.

However, not everyone agrees with the new law. 

Allison Gibbs is a program director for "Just City Memphis." It's a non-profit organization supporting people who have been involved with the criminal justice system. 

Gibbs said the new law won't work because it doesn't address the real issue.  

The real issue, she explained, is poverty. 

"What this does is it further criminalizes something that's already criminalized." 

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