Friday, September 05, 2014

San Antonio may criminalize giving to panhandlers

According to AP: Unable to dissuade panhandlers from asking people for money, the San Antonio police chief now wants authority for his officers to write Class C tickets to passersby who give people spare change! Problem is, asking for money is speech and, after Citizens United ruling, we all know money is speech. So First Amendment red flags abound.

Here's Texas Civil Rights Project legal director Wayne Krause's money quote in the AP story, "The idea of criminalizing people giving is both unkind and legally unsound. ... The First Amendment protects the right to ask for help. It certainly protects the right to choose to whom we give assistance."

It's great TCRP is fighting this, but it's too bad there wasn't any clergy in the room. Somebody could have quoted to the council from Matthew 25:36-47. Perhaps some of them will have time to review those passages before the ordinance comes before them next month.


Frank said...

Amen, Scott.

Texasred said...

I live in San Antonio and the arrogacne of this police chief astounds me...his time must surely be better spent concertrating on actual crimes

Anonymous said...

Yep, for some time now, Chief McManus has been telling us that if someone steals something from our cars, it is our fault.

Anonymous said...

My brother tells me in Las Vegas the police ticket the giver of spare change, " contributing to a public nusiance" is the charge. I hope it works here in say town because I for one am tired of being hassled by people who demand money from me at corners. Because I work in a jail I am well aware of how much money homeless people are able to beg for. I remember one person who was harassing me who turned down all offers of food, a plate from Luby's a burger, fried chicken, whatever you want, " just give me a few bucks Lady"

My two cents.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

I am of the opinion that people do not wake up one morning and decide to stand on the side of the road and fly a sign begging for money. I know this because I have been that guy. Losing a career due to downsizing, then the car, then the home then my wife's employment and Bingo, there you are. Ill bet you think it will never happen to you, I did, I was wrong.

I so agree with Grits on the Matthew 25:35-47 quote. Having been there and being able to work my way out of it, as many others have, gives you a fairly unique perspective on the problem. No one wants to stand there and beg for money.
So start off knowing they are there because they are trying to feed and clothe themselves, and YES before you call me crazy, there are some dope fiends in the mix. That fact can't be avoided.
For the most part the homeless people I have met in my travels are regular people who have experienced something that stopped their ability to pay their bills and the reasons are as different for each person or family.
This is why many cities have programs to help the homeless rebuild their lives. Some cities do Street clean up crews or hire the homeless to power wash sidewalks at night. Many cities do not do anything at all. Some people start social enterprises.My wife and I decided to start a Street Newspaper, sold only by those suffering homeless and poverty. There are many things people can do to help those less fortunate than themselves. It has been proven many times over that arresting and ticketing and clogging up the municipal judicial system, does not work. They are spending money doing things that just cost the Cities and Counties untold dollars that should be more wisely spent. Throwing the police mentality at the problem will do nothing but bankrupt San Antonio. Someone should tell Chief McManus, if he wants people to think he is worth keeping, he should look for other solutions. Here in Fort Worth there is a 10 year plan to end Chronic Homelessness. There are as many different solutions as there are different problems. Street Papers, Tiny Home Communities, refurbishing properties etc.
Just remember, wherever you go........ There you are.

Virginia Raymond said...

And it's not just Matthew. There is a great deal of Talmudic commentary about the commandment to give tzedakah (a word that is sometimes translated as "charity," but a "charity" that actually means "justice." In other words, to give is not mere charity, but justice). And we are also commanded to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Also, I understand that giving alms is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Make my day, San Antonio, make my day. Arrest those of us who give money to people asking on the street. Be prepared for long trials with religious scholars as witnesses.

A few sources gleaned in about 2 minutes. You'll notice that the question is typically not WHETHER we should give, but more detailed about specifically how, how often, to whom....

The Comedian said...

So much for all the propaganda about how San Antonio is such a great place to live and visit. The Chief ought to be locked up for impersonating a human being.