A recent editorial by Froma Harrop about panhandlers was spot on. Indianapolis was the subject of the piece, but the information could apply to any city including Spokane. Panhandling isn’t always about the person having the “right” to ask people for money, which the majority of the time goes to drugs or alcohol. The citizens also have a right to use a public sidewalk without being panhandled.
The recent move by Council President Ben Stuckart to delay action on the sit-lie law because it “criminalizes homelessness” does nothing but embolden downtown street people who cause grief for shoppers, visitors, residents and employees. There are a number of services available to “homeless” people. Lying on a sidewalk intimidating people with disorderly actions, including asking for money, is not about homeless people.
Yes, there are people genuinely homeless in need of assistance, but my experience with 11 years working in a security position downtown says they are not the people who are causing the problems. It takes city leaders who have courage to take aggressive measures to clean up downtown once and for all moving beyond the homeless rhetoric.
As Harrop’s editorial stated, “We’re talking about the future of urban America.”