Removing benches seems to reduce panhandling

Removing benches seems to reduce panhandling

CHAMPAIGN -- Police are fighting back against aggressive panhandling.
CHAMPAIGN -- Police are fighting back against aggressive panhandling. They removed two benches from the corner of 6th and Green streets. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has more.

Business owners are happy and say they've seen an immediate change. One panhandler, who's been doing this for more than 20-years, surprisingly supports the benches being removed.

"Why go to the food pantry to get something to eat when you have a student that's buying it for you. It's not illegal to panhandle."

But, you can get arrested for doing it aggressively. Korey Johnson says he's not happy with angry panhandlers who give everyone a bad name.

"If you're kind and you're courteous, people seem to stop and talk because, 'hey, this guy here is not a drunk and he's not trying to take advantage of anything, so we try to help him out.'"

But, businesses and people walking by say they're being harassed, so police removed two popular benches.

"They hang out on 6th and Green streets because you've got them in the middle of two liquor stores. You've got the Hometown Pantry and the Den right down the street. That's easy access to get into the liquor store."

"I just moved up here last year and I can tell it is kind of intimidating because, if you can't give it to them, they're upset or mad."

Jasmine Berscheid works at Noodles and Company. It's only been a week or so, but she sees a change.

"I don't see them standing around here and not as many people go into buy them food. And we don't see as many of them come in and out."

This is just a small step to clean up the area, but Johnson says he doesn't plan on hanging these signs. In August, they put installed meters around town.

Instead of hand-to-hand transfer of money, they want you to donate this way. They can make the money go even further.

The program is called "Make Real Change." You might have seen special meters around town. Two are on campus and two downtown.

The coins collected to toward local shelters. So far, they've raised $47. It might not sound like much, but organizers say it covers the cost of nearly 500 meals.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus