Asking for a little bit of change

A crackdown on aggressive panhandling will protect Minneapolitans.

by Daily Editorial Board

The Minneapolis Police Department has recently decided to crack down on panhandling along Grand Avenue, working undercover to cite, fine and potentially jail panhandlers. Aggressive panhandling âÄî that is verbal, loud or repeated requests for money or services âÄî is against the law in Minneapolis.

Aggressive panhandling poses a threat to social and public safety: Pulling out a purse or wallet at the request of a panhandler increases oneâÄôs risk of falling victim to a crime. Police are also concerned with the harassment of the general public.

Giving money to panhandlers only reinforces dependency and perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty. A more effective way to help is donating to organizations that actually serve to get those in need off of the streets. To this end, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak launched a 10-year “Give Real Change” campaign in 2007, suggesting residents direct their generosity and concern towards more effective outlets.

The police are right to crack down on aggressive panhandlers because Minneapolitans deserve to be able to walk out in public without being harassed. Furthermore, panhandling and giving to panhandlers does nothing to address the root causes of homelessness in the city: Domestic violence, drug abuse and mental illness all contribute.

If people want to help the homeless, charities like the Greater Twin Cities United Way are good starting points for donations or volunteer work. In the meantime, we hope the panhandling crackdown prevents people who are not actually in need from taking advantage of the goodwill of Minneapolis residents.