Sunday, July 8, 2007

Panning the Panhandlers

Our conscience, the editor of The Jackson Free Press, takes issue with a post by someone who works in the Belhaven area discussing the problems caused by panhandlers while encouraging people to support groups that help the homeless if they want to help and writes that by giving panhandlers money, they tend to stay in the area, causing more problems.

Ms Ladd of course defends them, saying they are not animals (No one said they were although it is these panhandlers who are acting like animals in begging for food) and that he does not need to make a bad situation worse:
"Not all panhandlers are criminals. And they're not animals, they're humans. Many troubled, yes. But they're not all alike, and making it sound like they are doesn't help the situation.I think it's individual choice whether to give money to strangers. I do sometimes, I don't sometimes.I sure don't want to live in a country where it is illegal for someone to ask someone else for money. Additional threats or clear harassment, yes. But not for simply begging."

Really? How is he making it worse for them? All he wrote was do not give them money. I was not aware that there were people who were attacking the homeless or rounding them up like cattle and herding them out of town. As I live over in Belhaven and know exactly what this poster is talking about, I will elaborate on his comments.

We currently have a problem with Jason, a young thin Black male around 20 years old who also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest recently. Jason went to the area businesses begging employees and customers for money. He was able bodied and showed no physical handicaps that would prevent him from working. If you were parked in the drive-through line, he would sneak up alongside your car and ask for money. He went from Kats to McDonalds to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Employees became so familiar with him that they would immediately recognize him. I saw him recently accosting a woman pushing a stroller while two small children were with her as well (I assume she was walking back to the hospital from McDonalds) for money. Now HOW exactly is this mother supposed to defend her children if she is tied down by them? She was in a VERY inferior position while he tried to get money out of her. The fear was evident. I stopped my car and made him leave. He was not a threat for awhile as he was picked up by the police finally and taken to jail. Unfortunately, he is now back out on the street and harassing people in our area again. So much for our wonderful criminal justice system in Jackson as Frank, Faye, and the judges all point fingers at each other. As he still might be young enough for Frank to adopt maybe the Mayor will take an interest in getting him turned around.

Recently there was a panhandler at the McDonalds on Fortification Street. It was lunchtime and very busy as the line of cars for the drive-through window backed up all the way to North State Street. There was a Black man of a small frame, about 160 lbs and in his 30-40's, dressed in an old t shirt and blue jeans, somewhat dirty, yelling at the young girl behind the counter to hurry up with his food. He did this at least half a dozen times, ignoring the fact that it was busy and alot of other people were waiting as well. He kept harassing her loudly. Finally he got his food and left. It turns out he is a panhandler and they were giving him the food for free. Some gratitude. In return for free food he yells at the staff. This the second time he was in there that day as he was begging that morning and a lady bought him breakfast. I didn't care about how he looked or smelled however, I DID care about how he acted. She said he had been in there before and it was always the same story.

I see panhandlers on a regular basis in the area and on our street right by Fortification Street recently there have been several attempted break-ins of houses. I don't blame the poster at all for his message. How is he making a bad situation worse with his comments as it is HE who is dealing with crime and his customers being accosted by panhandlers and probably criminals (lets not forget the Miners next door at Chevron who have been robbed numerous times)? To someone like me who is 6 feet tall and 230 lbs or Miss Ladd, who is the same height (and fortunately not even close to being the same weight) panhandlers don't appear as threatening as they do to a woman who is 45, 5'2" with 2 small kids pushing a stroller who can't even run. I also shouldn't have to state the obvious but all too often a simple request for money IS the beginning of a robbery attempt, especially if you are in an inferior position. A single mother should be able to go to the store or take her kids out to eat without acting like an Airborne Ranger on a mission behind enemy lines ( my apologies to the snake-eaters).

My personal view of homeless people is that a large percentage of them are mentally ill and need our help as well as our compassion and that they probably need to be semi-institutionalized in order for them to lead somewhat productive lives. However, not all panhandlers are homeless and businesses and residents have every right to live their lives and engage in business without such disturbances.

Update: I ran into Ms. Ladd tonight at McDades of all places, have to love the irony. I think she took the comments to mean he was referring to homeless people in the area. However, too often there is a difference between being homeless and panhandling and there are professional panhandlers in the area. Too often some people will take the path of least resistance and what he was stating was that by giving them money they are encouraged to beg people for more money, which just makes the problem worse.


Anonymous said...

I used to give money to panhandlers. But Fondren residents have been advised not to give money to people who come to the door because they keep coming back. I learned this the hard was when a guy I gave money to showed up banging on my front door at midnight. He wouldn't leave until I yelled through the door that I was calling the police.

And everyone in the city has been hit up by Michael Johnson. Dude needs to get a JOB.

Kingfish said...

Agreed. Its not like it is an epidemic over here in Belhvan but it has become definitely more noticeable in the last few weeks and its something that you don't want getting out of hand. A woman shouldn't have to be in fear walking across the street with an infant and two tots to McDonalds and back to the hospital. I should be able to sit in my front yard without being harassed by people looking for money, who all too often are more than likely also casing places to rob.

Anonymous said...

It was really bad in Fondren maybe six years ago. I felt like I was supporting entire families for a while. I really resented living in a neighborhood where people knocked on my door asking for money. Of course, it didn't help matters when I gave them money.

Anyway, even when they offer to do yardwork, they're going to screw you. Been there.

The last time Michael Johnson came through, he was so out of it he almost let my dogs out. Apparently, he opened the gate without noticing the four large dogs barking and waiting to attack. I yelled at him to leave and called Securitas.

Kingfish said...

Understand completely. What does he look like?

Anonymous said...

Maybe in his twenties. Nice looking. Medium build,height, and complexion. Last time he was on a bike. He doesn't appear menacing or anything. But he's like fungus. I think I saw on the Fondren bulletin board that someone else had spotted him in Fondren recently. He's well known all over town.

Anonymous said...

Michael used to hit my former neighborhood in NE Jackson quite frequently, always on his bike. I let him wash windows, etc and made him sandwiches.

Then strangely enough, I had things missing out of my garage, such as a leaf blower, lawn mower, etc. etc.

Coincidence? The police said even way back then (about 8 years ago) that Michael was bad news and to NOT give him anything. Tell him to never come around.

Tom Head said...

I, too, have met Michael Johnson. He used to show up at the front desk at St. Andrew's when I was manning the phones.

Re panhandling, of course it feels good to give money directly to homeless folks. But consider: We always see the same five or ten men panhandling, most of them to be honest have learned how to work the system and are not in dire straits, while there are hundreds of people homeless in this city who aren't panhandling and need our help more.

So what has been suggested to me by some folks who work with the homeless is that rather than giving money to panhandlers, we should direct panhandlers to social service organizations and give money to those organizations instead. They'll spend the money better, and it'll go to the people who really need it. A dollar to Stewpot will go much farther and do much more good, I believe, than five dollars to a random panhandler.

That said, I do occasionally give money to panhandlers--but not often.



Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS