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What's Your Experience with Panhandling in Salem?

We've had lots of people bring up the issue of panhandling in the city. Tell us what your experience is here as we continue to address this issue.

In the wake of our and Monday's , we've had quite a few people reach out to us regarding their concerns about aggressive panhandling.

We're opening space on Salem Patch so those with specific concerns about panhandling can discuss the issue.

What are your experiences with panhandling in Salem? Where is it the worst?

Let us know in the comments. We'll be following up with the city on this issue as we continue to gather your thoughts.

Michael Meuse July 31, 2012 at 11:41 PM
I was at Hess gas station on Derby street and I was approached by this man. he was very polite and communicated well so I fell for his trick. that is the last time I will fall for that
Diane Wolf August 01, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Seeing the same folks every day for the last six years (They come and go, but with many regulars) my instincts were to get them assistance. I first reached out to Lifebridge in an effort to help, then I reached out to the Salem Police Community Impact Unit in an effort to help. I suppose now I'm suffering from Compassion Fatigue, because it seems that the most egregious and aggressive in this group don't actually want any help. I do what I can to help those with genuine need. I will not, however, give money to folks who pan handle for a living. (Tricking, or scaring, the naive out of spare change with a fabricated story is a job, not an act of desperation. In a way, it is a craft.) Call me jaded if you want, but I've been fooled too many times to fall for it any more. I have, indeed, a "focus on your own life" that includes the quality of life for all residents of our fair city. If I can work to get these folks off the streets (be it into a facility that will help them or into a jail cell, it makes no matter to me.) then I am focusing on my community - which is something that makes us all richer. So I say this to everyone, don't just judge - DO SOMETHING. Anything is better than apathy. Call the police, write to your counselor, volunteer your time at Lifebridge, donate food...anything. Salem will be all the better for your efforts. Peace.
Jay Valatka August 01, 2012 at 04:23 AM
I believe I was approached by that guy twice within just a couple of weeks. (Haven't seen him since that arrest.) Both times his car was out of gas somewhere. Never knew anyone to have so much trouble keeping their tank filled. But, somehow I knew an empty gas tank was not his problem...
Jim Smith August 01, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Eliminate police details and train these people to be safety/flag people at road construction sites ? Easy Fix, put them to work, give them a weeks pay and healthcare benefits. If we took all the unemployed and the state re-trained for needed positions, to fill in for trainable skills the state and private industry needs. This would be a win/win for Massachusetts, maybe the Governor and Obama can work out a Public Works project similar to the WPA of the past. Oh yeah, that would be too easy. Let's let the Fed print more money, give it to the banks for them to sit on and start up quantitative easing again, yeah, that works ?
matt buchanan August 01, 2012 at 05:00 AM
I don't understand, why did she move him?
matt buchanan August 01, 2012 at 05:22 AM
One-foot-backwards guy at Lafayette and Harbor was one that I always felt a bit bad for until about three years ago, when I was walking towards downtown and he yelled, "give me a dollar!" in a very aggressive tone. Every time I see him I yell random demonstrative statements at him in both in Spanish and English, for example, "dareme un peso!", "Don't stand in traffic!", and "Si tu quieres dinero, aprender engles mejor" and "go @!0$% off".....sadly, I believe my humor may be lost on him.
Craig Baskis August 01, 2012 at 12:01 PM
This may sound a bit crazy...but we as residents/taxpayers can peacefully organize and make the panhandlers feel as uncomfortable as the residents and tourists feel while in Salem. Why not make signs and literally stand next to the 'hot spots' in Salem. The signs could say, "Do not give these people money. If you would like to help people in need, please donate money to Lifebridge." and give the appropriate information for Lifebridge donations. (I think the meters are a fantastic idea) A group of us could literally follow folks around. We would be doing nothing illegal whatsoever. I wonder how long they would last? We can wait and work through our own gov't for an ordinance, but in the meantime we can also fight for our right to go to Walgreens/car/shanty without being accosted.
ryan August 01, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Mr. Baskis, you are a gentleman and a scholar.
Seth McCullough August 01, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Can't say that I hate the idea.
Amy Mckeehan August 01, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Was downtown this bad with homeless and panhandlers before the shelter moved from Crombie Street to Margin? I honestly can't remember this many homeless hanging around downtown before then.... but I guess the economy has changed drastically as well. Some mornings, I actually lock the doors in my car as I drive thru downtown ... there are so many homeless hanging around after the shelter kicks them out for the day.. I can only imagine how visitors to our city feel.
Bill August 01, 2012 at 12:41 PM
LOL - Now there are 75 Comments - hard for them to ignore during the course of a tough 5 hour day.
Bill August 01, 2012 at 12:43 PM
No one has mentioned the group of clearly drunk homeless who hang out at Pickering Wharf all day, along the dock. I can't believe the people who live there put up with it. Public drinking, occasional fighting and yelling.
Jared Robinson August 01, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Kind of like one of those 'circle of crap' signs like they have at the parks about not feeding the birds. I should change the image in the middle to a hand with money in it and reword it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ejbean82/4809874353/ Then we can post this near all the hot spots.
Michael McNeil August 01, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Funny how the topic of crime has been diverted to panhandlers. I'll take a guy coming at me in a wheelchair over a guy coming at me with a Machette any day.
Henry Talbot August 01, 2012 at 01:22 PM
FYI, The wonderful law makers and the courts have found it to be unconstitutional to have laws/ordinances against this type of activity. I have talked to the police concerning this issue and they are working on a remedy. I have been told that the two guys in the wheel chairs have been issued citations for loitering ordinance violations. They tell me that they have arrested the guys in front of Walgreens on New Derby Street several times for drinking in public. The police have been some what handcuffed by the law makers...
john August 01, 2012 at 02:12 PM
The topic IS panhandling
Henry Talbot August 01, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I understand what the topic is!!!! Ordinances for panhandling have been deemed unconstitutional by our law makers!!!!
Evan Weinberg August 01, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Lets take a look at the scorecard in Salem to try to explain why people are moving out in droves. Since the Patch asked-yes a sharp increase in panhandling-awful! Violent crime is way up-especially in the Point area, Salem police are arresting 20 violent criminals a day-look at the Machete attack in Peabody yesterday that happened in Salem last week. Plus just last week, the evil duo of Joan Lovely & Kim Driscoll rammed thru a 9 per cent increase in the water rate & a 4 percent increase on the sewer rate! July 2, when NO ONE was paying attention, these 2 pushed thru a 25 percent increase in parking fines, a $300 street parking fee with no guaranteed space. Dont Lovely & Driscoll understand these parking fees and fines hurt small business in this depression! Then last but no least, Joan Lovely's pride and joy THE INTERNET SALES TAX resolution. Salem is the ONLY city or town to pass such a ridiculous tax in a terrible economy. This is the record that Joan Lovely is running for state senate on? Hey Aubry-things are lousy in Salem! Vote NO on Joan Lovely!
Justin Mattera August 01, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I have called, Vic Station has called and several other PW businesses have called. They really don't come around here anymore. If they do, they are removed as quickly as they sit down. It's up to the businesses to do something about it. Just like Walgreens should.
john August 01, 2012 at 05:19 PM
The problem at the Wharf should be something that the condo owners should address in addition to local police.I think Rockett could easily afford to have security on that property.What do they do with the condo fees?Many of the buildings are rotting away.BTW put some trash barrells around the area.There was a guy there yesterday around noon drinking in the usual spot.
Justin Mattera August 01, 2012 at 05:26 PM
I can only speak for myself. I have the only barrel located on the wharf. I empty it several times a day. Any issues with management, needs to be taken up with them. I simply run a business here. Feel free to call the police ANYTIME you see the "drinkers" at the wharf, they bring nothing good to my business.
ACG August 01, 2012 at 10:39 PM
From http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/panhandle panhandling (US) To beg for money, especially with a container in hand for receiving loose change, especially on the street, and particularly, by a bum.
john August 01, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Whats a bum?
William Legault August 01, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Please specify which lawmakers and when, under what circumstances, and be sure to include the dissenting opinion.
john August 01, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Henry,I refer you to my earlier comment(in this thread) which shows a link(by another poster)that this person has been charged ,in Salem,for panhandling
Billie McGregor August 02, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Benefit v. Cambridge, 424 Mass. 918 (1997).
James R. Willis Jr. August 02, 2012 at 03:03 AM
The Patch article cited above about Mr. Evans shows a correction now indicating that he was not in fact arrested for "panhandling", as the police cannot charge for that crime, but for the many other crimes he committed. Benefit v. Cambridge indeed, as Billie O'Connor found above, cites over 80 years of US Supreme Court cases to hold that "peaceful begging" is constitutionally protected. Drinking in public and trespassing to panhandle on private property are still arrestable offenses.
Timothy Camire August 02, 2012 at 06:14 AM
I work with that Walgreens. I can tel you the store has repeatedly attempted to slow or stop panhandling outside the store. The police know us well. There are issues of exactly where our property ends, and where they stand. Still, as has been brought up before, people just have to understand they can't give money to them. I'm more of a Democrat than anything, but even I understand there are many many programs to help those in need. Giving just keeps them coming around, and even a police visit won't stop them from trying again. It just is too easy to beg rather then try and really improve their situation. Please stop giving. The people asking WILL lie about their situation to get money consistently. Please don't blame the store for not doing more. We have shoplifters and other incidents inside the store to be more concerned about. Also, please don't think I speak for the company. I just am sharing some personal observations. In my experience, If you don't give they let you pass. If they don't let you pass, then you have a good reason to get on your own personal cell phone and call the police. If you don't carry a cell phone I'm sure the employees will be happy to help you make the call.
Irishjedi August 02, 2012 at 10:48 PM
I have actually pushed his wheelchair up the hill to the Salem Heights on more than one occasion because his battery ran out and felt bad. Not anymore. Once he asked me for $5 in my drive and yelled at him because of what I've done for him. No more hand outs. Boston St. (near Walgreens) is getting pretty bad with the drunks and druggies. Something needs to be done and the apartments at the corner of Pope and Boston torn down. That is where many of them stay.
Misty August 08, 2012 at 02:02 AM
I just tried to comment on this but don't think it went through, so sorry if there's a double post! The guy who pushes himself around on one foot sits on the corner of Harbor (where I live) and lafayette all the time. I'd say 90% of the times i've walked up my street since 2006 he has been here. He asks us for money by shrugging his shoulders and gesturing with his arms when we walk by. We're always amazed when we see that he got himself to another area of town. We call him the Harbor Street Toll! Yesterday, he was in the middle (literally, in the middle) of harbor street drinking a 40 out of a paper bag while cars had to maneuver around him. I saw him pour some out for his homies when I was walking by. True story!

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