Warner Robins Council voted unanimously to ban 'aggressive panhandling' within the city. The vote was 5-0, Councilman Chuck Shaheen was not in attendance.
The ordinance prohibits panhandlers using obscene or abusive language, being physically intimidating by blocking someone's path or forcing themselves onto someone.
It also bans it in areas within 20 feet of a public parking lot at night, ATMs, and entrances to public venues or businesses.
It also would ban it from streets and highways except on some medians. WMAZ originally reported on the details of the ordinance in November.
Councilman Clifford Holmes says just last week he saw it happen while waiting for lunch.
“It was a long line and he came straight past all of us. I think I might have been second or third in line and he went past me and just as I got ready to say something to him he went to a lady who was waiting for her order and the lady said to him, 'I told you I will bring it out to you when I get it,” Holmes said after the meeting.
He said the man continued to bother the woman.
“She said, ‘I'm not giving you any money, I'll buy you something to eat but I'm not giving you any money.’ And he left out of the business at that time. And then another fellow standing over to my right said, ‘I gave him $2 last week up here.’ He said, ‘He's up here every day.’ And I just thought, this is why people's businesses are falling off,” Holmes continued.
Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans expressed support for the ordinance in the past.
The ordinance goes into effect immediately.
Passive, or non-aggressive, panhandling, meaning requests for charities, written requests and oral requests that don't become aggressive, are protected under the First Amendment and still legal in the city.
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