Jackson City Council votes ‘no’ on ordinance to fine panhandlers

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:38 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - The Jackson City Council gave a thumbs down on Tuesday to an ordinance that would fine aggressive panhandlers $100. It was no quick discussion, with passion coming from both sides of the issue.

Many business owners showed up to Tuesday’s meeting, sharing what they’ve had to do to keep people from approaching their customers for money.

During public comment, Jackson resident Eric Saxton said, “I’ve had to hire a security guard and it’s not cheap.”

He says panhandlers make him uneasy.

“It makes people feel uncomfortable,” Sexton said. “It makes people wonder if they’re safe to be approached by these people.”

Kevin Hardman also lives in Jackson.

“Myself; I’ve asked people for something. But, I’d rather work,” Hardman said.

Hardman is an unhoused man who attended the meeting to advocate for people in his situation. He says he thinks it would be more beneficial for businesses to offer small jobs to earn money rather than have the panhandlers removed.

Hardman said, “To penalize me or anybody else because I’m poor? I don’t dress nice? I’m not walking around in no suit?”

Hardman says many of the unhoused are disabled like him and unable to hold down a job. He also thinks the police have more important things to do than worry about people asking for money.

“The police need to focus more on the crimes that are happening like the shootings, the burglaries, the robberies and that kind of stuff,” Hardman said. “They don’t have time to run down here.”

Despite city council voting down the ordinance, they don’t expect the issue to be shelved. More ideas are expected to come to the table to help tackle the issue

Other cities, like Ann Arbor and Novi, have ordinances against panhandling.

Many of the Jackson City Council members believe the ordinance to be unconstitutional.

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