Panhandlers cluster at ‘compassionate’ U

by Jessica Steeno

A man was arrested Wednesday for panhandling on the 600 block of Washington Ave. S.E.
Pedestrians in Stadium Village called police after they were harassed by the man. When police arrived they arrested Robert Holmes, 51, because he had a misdemeanor warrant for panhandling.
University Police Sgt. Joe May said many people beg for money in Dinkytown and Stadium Village even though there are laws against it.
“Panhandling is illegal in just about every major city in the country,” he said. “We could sure enforce it a lot more, but we don’t get a lot of complaints.”
May said panhandlers congregate near the University because people there seem compassionate and are more likely to give them money than in some other parts of the city.
“They get more people to buy into it around the U,” May said.
He said although college students are notoriously poor, panhandlers thrive on small donations. “Most people around here will give them a buck,” he said.
The penalties for panhandling are not exactly tough, either, May said. He said if panhandlers are arrested they may be found guilty of misdemeanors. But since most of them do not have any money, they are not usually fined, May said.
May said after their fourth or fifth arrest, panhandlers may be sent to a workhouse. People arrested for repeat misdemeanor offenses may be sent to a workhouse instead of a prison, which detains felony offenders.
In the past, criminals sentenced to workhouses have done manual labor jobs for the government.
Panhandlers are a common sight around the University, and May said it will probably remain that way in the future.
“You’re never going to do away with it,” he said. “It’s just whether you can keep it controlled.”
There are two ways citizens can help reduce the number of people who beg for money, May said. People can call the police when someone harasses them, and they can refuse to give money, he said.
“The more money that they get here, the more of them that will come here,” May said.

In other police news occurring between Sept. 30 and Sunday:
ù A Territorial Hall resident was surprised when a beer bottle sailed through his window Friday night, breaking both panes of glass.
The resident’s roommate, Dylan Petersson, a postsecondary student who was not there at the time, said the resident thinks it was some drunk guy who threw the bottle through the window.
“It went in butt-first, I think,” Petersson said, referring to the size of the hole in their window, which is about the size of the bottom of a beer bottle.
“There was beer and glass all over,” he said.
Petersson said the window has not been fixed by Territorial Hall staff members yet.
“It gets cold in here,” he said.
Petersson’s roommate was unavailable for comment.
ù A man walking down 14th Avenue Southeast had $120 stolen from him Oct. 1 by two men who said they had a gun, according to a Minneapolis Police report.
The report stated the men approached the 31-year-old victim and demanded his money. The suspects then fled the area in a 1980 white Chevrolet Caprice.
Police said they have suspects in this incident but have not made any arrests.
ù Four juveniles who were lurking around West Bank bike racks Sunday were cited by University Police with intent to steal bicycles.
A University Police report stated that a police officer saw the boys walking around the bike racks. When the officer tried to approach them, the boys ran. Eventually the officer stopped the boys.
Three bicycles and a spare bike tire were confiscated from the boys. They were also cited with lurking with the intent to commit a crime and then released, according to the police report. The owner of the spare tire retrieved it from the University Police station Sunday evening.