Memphis leaders discuss strengthening restrictions on panhandler - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis leaders discuss strengthening restrictions on panhandlers

Video of a Memphis panhandler near an intersection. (Source: WMC Action News 5 archives) Video of a Memphis panhandler near an intersection. (Source: WMC Action News 5 archives)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

A new Memphis ordinance could change when and where panhandlers ask for money.

Councilman Phillip Spinosa said the ordinance focuses on public safety. He says it would make it illegal to panhandle within 25 feet of the road during high traffic times.

Some council members questioned what the new ordinance would do differently than the one that's already on the books.

Spinosa said the current ordinance prevents panhandlers from touching a pedestrian or blocking any paths to panhandle, but his proposed ordinance is more focused on people in cars.

He said keeping panhandlers away from intersections during rush hour is necessary to ensure public safety. He said it will help prevent car crashes.

There was no direct evidence available at the time of this publication to determine whether panhandlers have previously created traffic problems or caused any accidents. Although, three people from Texas were arrested Sunday because police said they blocked traffic while soliciting money for a church fundraiser.

"You do want it to be safe, especially in construction zones and during rush hour," Mayor Jim Strickland said.

Strickland said he is in support of the new ordinance.

Memphis Police Department Director Mike Rallings said he was not opposed to the ordinance.

Tuesday was the first discussion of the ordinance, so it must still go through more vetting, discussion, and votes before it becomes law in Memphis.

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