Birmingham cracks down on panhandling

BIRMINGHAM,AL (WBRC) - Organizers of a crack-down on panhandling are asking people to say "NO" and keep walking when approached for money. It might be tough, but experts say when you give people money, you're likely enabling some kind of addiction. Flyers are being passed out regarding the crackdown and organizers are asking everyone to take notice.

Anthony Gilmore, a member of the CAPS team, or City Action Partnership, is charged with patrolling the streets of Birmingham. But his newest duty involves handing out flyers asking people to say "no." Operations Manager for CAPS, Ray Barrett says, "we need to educate folks to not give money to panhandlers and to not enable them to stay out on the street."

Begging for money is becoming more and more of a nuisance in Birmingham. Michael Calvert of Operation New Birmingham says not all panhandlers are homeless. "Many, studies have shown, are addicted to alcohol, drugs or have some other problem," Calvert said. "The first thing is not to give money to panhandlers, in many cases its misused."

Attorney Mac Moorer of Lightfood, Franklin and White has noticed the problem and wishes it would stop. "Most of the time they want the money, some are more aggressive than others," Moorer said. "We haven't really had any physical incidents, but that fear and apprehension from employees is something we don't want."

What many people might not know, panhandling is illegal in many and most parts of Birmingham. The ordinance is now being enforced by everyone involved, hoping to put a stop for it once and for all. "Some people shake it off and are not bothered, but a lot of people are bothered. It's against the law and we want it stopped," Calvert said.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.