OKLAHOMA CITY—At busy intersections across the city, you may see panhandlers asking for money. However, some drivers are concerned that many beggars are becoming too aggressive.
While most panhandlers don’t seem to be a nuisance, Oklahoma City police say they are dealing with multiple complaints of aggressive beggars all over the metro.
MSgt. Gary Knight, with the Oklahoma City Police Department, said, “Continuing to bother them after someone says no; to continue to harass them and to put their hands on them, to step in front of their path, things like that. “
Lonnie Logan, a street evangelist, says he is familiar with the scenario.
Logan said, “A lot of them are trying to get a drink or a drug, you know, but a lot of them are mentally challenged as well. Not everybody falls into the drug or alcohol category.”
Logan says he uses the street as a platform to preach the gospel and tends to get a different response from drivers.
He said, “Often times when they pull up to a street corner, they’ll generally see someone asking for money or panhandling of some sort and when they see someone really trying to do good, proclaiming the gospel, and not really asking for anything, I think it does.”
A person asking for money does not require a permit.
In fact, the city ordinance states that panhandling falls under a First Amendment right.
However, there are guidelines that need to be followed.
MSgt. Knight said, “They can’t come up and start banging on your car window, or something, or banging on your car hood. They have to stay in an area outside the roadway.”
Logan said, “There’s just a lot of hopeless people that have given up.”
Officials say that while there are several reports of aggressive panhandlers, there are no reports of anyone being injured or beggars becoming violent with drivers