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Monday, June 18, 2012

Portland street punks, please don't hassle the food carts

Aggressive panhandlers have been making downtown Portland an unpleasant place to be for a decade or more. Local merchants complain, but the city acts as if its hands are tied -- civil liberties, you know. But funny thing -- when the street urchins start making trouble for the sacred food carts, suddenly the city seems interested in doing something. The cops will probably just move them to different locations, and just for a while. And the beat goes on.

Comments (11)

Isn't panhandling just one more aspect of the "Keep Portland weird" mantra?

It seems like every element of downtown policy is designed to DISCOURAGE families, cars, jobs and shopping.

Like I see on the left margin here: "WEIRD ISN'T WORKING".

I'd like to see less tolerance for the aggressive, "road warrior" types everywhere, but this is a good step. Most of the homeless/poor who panhandle are pretty harmless and will drop it after a polite no, but the backpack toting, tatted up, pitbull handling late teens/mid 20s crowd that I'm thinking of will block your path, cuss you out, and make a nice threat or two if they don't get their way. And, like the cart owner quoted in the article implied, if the owners themselves tell the punks to go on, the only thing that will probably lead to is a confrontation/vandalized cart. Glad the police are doing something, but I hope this doesn't just mean steering them toward areas the city doesn't care about.

And now we know the one surefire way to get police to respond to any call in Portland: "Hooligans are harassing food cart customers!"

Maybe we could set up a wrestling match at Laurelhurst Park:

Drunken teen losers VS Aggressive street punks

And give the proceeds to the "arts"...

I imagine that the punks responsible for the harassment will give the PPD plenty of probable cause to search their belongings. Once the cops take a look at their belongings and run a check for wants and warrants they will at least be able to take them off the street for a while and discourage them from this activity.

The Portland Tribune had an article on panhandling in September 2010:


I wish the city would put in some donation stations around downtown, that say

"hey, if you're worried about all the homeless, put money in this lockbox and it will go to local service providers. Don't give money to panhandlers."

My understanding is that other cities have something like this. You hear these kids quoted that they make $40 bucks a day, so a lot of the blame rests with whoever is dumb enough to be handing these people money. Why would they stop?

The foodcart ambassadors are now being referred to as "summer travelors". Looks like they'll be here for a while.

The problem with giving money to the city for a good cause is that because of its notorious lack of accountability and misuse of funds, there's no way to know if those funds are being skimmed for something else.

That's true Mr. Grumpy. I guess I was thinking that the transmission of donations to the local soup kitchens and shelters would be pretty much direct, but the city would definitely find a way to get their cut.

Maybe Mercy Core could administer it?

It's not in Mercy Corps' mission to get involved in something like that at the local level, but Sisters of the Road would be great. I think the problem is that organizations that help the homeless tend to worry that such efforts are seen as "anti-homeless," and thus are hesitant to get on board.

And while we're on the topic of aggressive/annoying panhandlers, can't we do something about the throngs of 23 year olds who gather on Hawthorne over the summer and try to solicit donations for OSPIRG and groups like that?

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