Panhandling troubles local businesses

Some people have raised concerns about panhandlers’ presence on campus.

Kyle Sando

Some longtime residents and business owners around campus are accustomed to being approached by various people asking for spare change. Most of the time theyâÄôre harmless, but some people have raised concerns recently about panhandlersâÄô presence on campus. Kerry Kramp Jr., franchisee of Raising CaneâÄôs Chicken Fingers, said he has recently noticed there have been more aggressive panhandlers around his restaurant. He said he was primarily concerned with the safety of his customers and of the students around the area. âÄúA message we try to spread to students and others is not to give money to panhandlers,âÄù University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said, because doing so keeps them coming back to the area. âÄúWe encourage people to give to charities and social service organizations who can help these individuals out rather than give them money in the street.âÄù Asa Pearson, manager of The Harvard Market, said she has been dealing with the issue since she began working there about 15 years ago. She said she has seen aggressive panhandlers become physical with people on the street, but she could only recall one occasion where the situation turned violent. She said that from what she has seen, the panhandlers are usually not the instigators of the fights. Pearson said she usually ends up asking the panhandlers operating in front of her store to leave. She said they know to keep their distance most of the time. âÄúI think the panhandlers know that theyâÄôre not welcome in many of the businesses, so they stay away,âÄù Jim Rosvold, managing partner of Campus Pizza, said. âÄúBut by law, thereâÄôs not much we can do. Rosvold said he doesnâÄôt think there is much the police can do either, given how the courts treat the issue. When the courts see a panhandling case come through, itâÄôs usually dropped, he said. âÄúI think UMPD and Minneapolis PD are doing whatever they can. Their hands are kind of tied,âÄù Rosvold said. Miner said the courts have set a precedent that people have the right to ask for money, making enforcement difficult. âÄúAlso what we notice is that a lot of these folks that we deal with around the University have substance abuse problems,âÄù he said. âÄúSo theyâÄôre not getting money to purchase their next meal, theyâÄôre getting money to go to a liquor store to purchase alcohol, for example.âÄù Rosvold said he sees the issue as more of an annoyance than a serious problem. âÄúThe couple of particular panhandlers that weâÄôre familiar with âÄî we call them the regulars âÄî theyâÄôre pretty harmless,âÄù he said. An effective tool for business owners is the use of a trespass list, Miner said. He said if business owners are frequently bothered by panhandlers, warning them that theyâÄôre on a list goes a long way toward pushing them out of the area.