Begging is Illegal

Friday, 31 July 2009

While I was chatting with my homeless friend K this evening the coppers came up and asked us what we were doing.

"Talking about art," K said, looking up at them.

It's true, we were. K does the most amazing intricate pen drawings, all freehand. They look like they have been computer generated, they're that precise. Pretty amazing. I have one stuck up on my pantry door. Keeps me thinking and praying of K every day. I will scan it when I can get off my butt to do it.

I saw another one tonight and fell in love with it. Silver on black card stock. Couldn't afford to buy it as I have 30 bucks till next Thursday, heh. K said that she'll bung a big price tag on it so high that it might still be there when I come round next Thursday :)

The coppers suggested K remove her little hat that had a "donations accepted" sign in cardboard on the outside.

"Is begging illegal?" I asked her as they walked away. I'd never really given a great deal of thought to it before. K nodded.

Seems pretty weird to me. I did keep my mouth closed but what I wanted to ask them was whether there wasn't something a bit more useful they could be doing to maintain law and order, especially considering police numbers are so low. Seems like a law that means the coppers have to harass homeless people trying to get some cash should be taken to the court of petty sessions itself, really.

Is begging illegal in your area?


  1. The other day I was driving Keven up to court. We noticed a cop on the side of the freeway entrance and a guy standing about ten feet away. I kept expecting him to ask the guy to do a sobriety test, could not figure out what the deal was. Then as we moved forward I saw it: an open guitar case with a guitar. The guy had been playing music and asking for donations. And he was getting busted for it! I think its crazy. There are drug dealers and murderers (same thing really) running around and this cop is harassing some poor dude trying to make a few bucks....

  2. No, it isn't, but in *some* cases it really ought to be. I know that sounds harsh but here in Austin we have professional beggars who carefully stake out busy intersections, and take shifts going from car to car when the lights are red. When I lived in the California Bay Area they were really aggressive and would come up to you with a newspaper and a spray bottle and forcibly wash your windshield and then demand money (and the windshield always looked worse because now it was covered with newsprint).

    I love to give, but I hate being harassed and/or manipulated. And since I almost never carry cash (I compulsively spend it, have ever since my stroke, so credit cards keep me safe), it is a really akward situation.

  3. I ma not sure if begging is illegal here in Illinois or not. But, I agree with you that it seems the police could be doing something better than bugging your friend.

    I stopped over here from a journey worth taking and thought I would say hello. It's nice to "meet" you. Please stop by and "meet" me as well. Have a great weekend!

  4. Not yet, but giving is directly to the individual is strongly discouraged - notices posted against it. The stand under them with their signs....

  5. I forgot that I didn't respond to these comments :) And it's so long ago now who the hell can remember what we were all talking about? :)

    Barbara - I agree. Find something more useful to do.

    Tyler - I have an issue with slapping down laws because of the behaviour of a select few, you know? There's always gonna be bad apples, why does the whole damn bunch have to suffer under it? Once there is a law, behaviour gets outsourced to that law. Why can't the people on the streets themselves deal with the professional beggers?

    Daveda - I hope you had a great weekend last weekend, it's taken me this long to respond to these comments ;)

    KG - I understand why its strongly encouraged not to give etc etc. But again, isn't it dependent on the situation instead of making a one-law-fits-all sort of a scenario about the whole thing?

    I can feel a blog post coming on about laws and subsequent behavioural abdication

    (oooh, that's a big sentence! :)

  6. On a related here in notoriously progressive Portland have a black's called the sit-lie ordinance. It says it's illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks during business hours. Of course there are many obvious's targeted specifically at homeless people. It sucks, and they finally just repealed it. Sitting or laying on a sidewalk shouldn't be illegal in and of itself. Only if a person is doing something else, such as selling drugs, should this kind of thing be enforced.


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