What if it were a crime to give money to a panhandler?


by Karen Grace / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @KENSKarenGrace


Posted on December 29, 2009 at 5:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 29 at 7:15 PM

The San Antonio City Council will consider an ordinance to ticket people who give money to panhandlers. Should it be illegal to try to help out?

SAN ANTONIO -- A San Antonio city councilman will propose a fine for people who give money to panhandlers.

"If there's no money for the panhandlers, the panhandlers will go away," said Councilman John Clamp, District 10.

He believes punishing the giver will stop panhandlers from fattening their pockets. But some people say it would rob people of their right to give.

"I think it should be your choice to give people money or not," said Eddie Romero, a motorist.

But Clamp says it's a safety issue for both the driver and the panhandler.

"It does cause a safety problem if the motorist stops to give the panhandler money," he said. "It's a distraction for other motorists as well."

Clamp is researching a law in Gainesville, Fla. In July 2007, city leaders there banned all transactions between motorists and pedestrians on streets and made it a crime that carries a penalty of $500 or six months in jail.

It's a law Clamp said will force people who truly need assistance to get long-term help.

"There's Haven for Hope, United Way and Samm Ministries," he said.

Clamp plans to introduce the proposed ordinance in January after getting more input from the community, police and council. The law would not apply to charities that have city-issued permits.

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