she could wait an hour at least, so he should walk to the morgue instead of disgracing hermemory by begging.I was approached on
Washington Avenue last week by a well dressed young manwho was holding out a dollar bill. I thought he wanted change, so I stopped and let him engageme, but he said he needed another dollar bill for the bus fare because his new shoes hurt his feetbadly and he had lost his wallet. When I refused, he followed me down the street until I pulledout my phone to call the police. A few days prior, another well dressed young man asked me forbus fare at the bus stop, but I knew he had no intentions of getting on the bus. When I said I wassurprised to see such a nice looking fellow panhandling, he said he was not panhandling, pulled aconceal-and-carry permit from his wallet, claimed that he was an undercover police officer, andthreatened to have me arrested for obstruction. I called the police and he disappeared in a hurry,two squad cars arriving three minutes later.In some cities, ordinances licensing or permitting panhandling in designated areas specificallyoutlaw fraudulent begging behavior. However, Miami-Dade County, which includes the City of Miami Beach, does not issue licenses or permits for panhandling. Section 21-31.4 of MiamiDade County Regulations prohibits panhandling that obstructs pedestrian or vehicular traffic, andthe ordinance also prohibits begging aggressively, defined as begging with intent to intimidate orin such a way that would cause a reasonable person to feel fearful hence compelled to give apanhandler something of value. Intimidating acts might include touching, following, abusivelanguage, and threatening gestures.For example, I observed aggressive panhandling last week, from the second floor of a buildingoverlooking the intersection of Washington Avenue and 13
Street. A man approached a man atthe bus stop from behind, and nudged him. When the mark turned around, the panhandlerbehaved as if he were severely handicapped: he contorted his body and collapsed on the sidewalk with his hands clasped in prayer. When the mark refused to give money, and walked away, the
hustler stood up, staggered after him, and reached for the man’s pocket.
That angered thegentlemen, who put his parcel down and threatened to strike the predator, at which time the
panhandler’s accomplice approached from a quarter
-block away to protect him. A bystander whohad been watching the scene unfold joined the intended victim, and they chased the culpritsdown the block into an alley.The first panhandling offense under the Miami Dade County Regulations is punishable with afine of not more than $100 and not more than 30 days imprisonment. The second and subsequentviolations are punishable by a fine of not more than $200 and not more than 60 daysimprisonment.As for the City of Miami Beach, Chapter 74 of the City of Miami Beach Ordinances prohibitspanhandling on public property within 20 feet of ATM machines, parking machines, theperimeters of outdoor eating establishments, entrances or exits of food stores selling alcoholicbeverages, entrances or exits of financial institutions, and within any busy intersection. Section1-14 provides for a penalty not exceeding $500 or 60 days imprisonment or both.