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Public claims aggressive panhandling is becoming an increasing issue

Public claims aggressive panhandling is becoming an increasing issue

Panhandlers in the downtown Little Rock are somewhat hard to miss, many of them soliciting and begging on busy street corners. However, now the public is starting to have an issue with panhandling, noting that it’s becoming increasingly aggressive.

“A lot of the times I have people banging on my windows of my car. That’s not okay,” said motorist Alyssa Adams.

“One guy got mad at me because he asked for some money and I wouldn’t give it to him and he got mad,” said Evan Dobbins as he entered a Little Rock gas station.

This form of panhandling is labeled as aggressive and causing some of the traveling public to be afraid.

According to City Attorney Tom Carpenter, panhandling is not illegal in the city, but there is an ordinance that bans begging or soliciting in medians and roadways - something the city sees as a safety issue.

“If they are in the middle of the road, if they are in the middle of the road or the median, they can be issued a citation for a violation of the ordinance. It carries a potential fine,” said Carpenter.

However, when it comes to aggressive pan handling, there is no city ordinance but the issue can be enforced by police.

"We have other calls that are much more, a higher level of importance than people at an intersection so it's pretty low,” said Lt. Steve McClanahan with the Little Rock Police Department.

“If they get aggressive with begging, the police can always deal with an assault. They don’t care why they are with a person. It’s because they threatened them or grabbed them or they do something to cause alarm. What they are doing is what we go after, not why they are doing it,” said Carpenter.

Willie Davis, who has been homeless for years, told Channel 7 he takes a more aggressive approach when asking the public for donations, claiming he has to be assertive so he can survive.

“You have to show them your sign and ask them will they feed you and give you something to eat. Sometimes they don’t and sometimes they will,” said Davis.

According to the Central Arkansas Team Care for The Homeless, their annual homeless count revealed that there are over 500 unsheltered people in the Little Rock Metro Area.

Little Rock police tell Channel 7 they see the most aggressive panhandling in the West side of the city. Police suggest if you feel threatened by a panhandler, you should still call them immediately.

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