Locals respond to downtown panhandling

From the busy Easter weekend on Beale Street to the Redbirds season opener tourists, locals and business owners say aggressive panhandling goes hand-in-hand with a trip downtown.

With people visiting for the holiday, there are more people to prey on and business owners say that's a problem.

"Is it about the beautiful city that we live in or is it about the nagging pan handling as they go from Beale Street to their hotel, their hotel to Sun studios?" Questioned Bigfoot Lodge owner, Sh

Danko says aggressive pan handling is bad for tourism. His restaurant window posts a flyer from the Center City Commission's "Say NO to Pan handling" campaign, but Action News 5 cameras caught panhandlers just feet from h

"It's day in, day out and it gets annoying after a while," Danko ex

Bike Patrol officers soon scared the panhandler off, but not for long. Memphis Police officers target the problem every day.

"I don't think there's a way to end it. You can slow it down and try and reduce the numbers of people who want to panhandle," said Entertainment District Unit Officer, Lieutenant J.

While the Center City Commission says panhandling enables self-destructive behavior like alcohol and drug abuse, panhandlers say they're just trying to feed themselves and that it's a practice you cannot stop. Lieutenant Smith agrees it's a problem that won't go away.

"We do what we can do daily. We go out every day and write city tickets for panhandling. Keep an eye on the people that are in the downtown area panhandling," s

By law, panhandling is illegal in Memphis after dark, even with a permit. The Center City Commission says the best way to help the homeless is to donate to charities.

They're having a quality of life meeting next week to release findings from the first month of their "Say NO to Panhandling"