Rapid City’s Common Council voted unanimously to adopt new rules for downtown panhandling at their March 4th meeting, despite vocal opposition from meeting attendees and community members. According to NewsCenter1, the policy would expand to penalize “aggressive” panhandling downtown.
Supporters of the ordinance assert that Rapid City already has a multitude of resources, like the Care Campus, Cornerstone Rescue Mission, and others, that help people facing homelessness. They hope that organizations such as these can help to raise people out of poverty, rather than resorting to panhandling.
Opposition to the new rules say that they could unfairly target Rapid City’s Native American population and that the definition of “aggressive” panhandling is too vague. The policy expansion would penalize panhandlers whose actions are perceived as “threatening, aggressive, or [striking] fear [into] others”.
Violators of the new rules could face fines or even jail time. The newly expanded policy is set to go into effect in 20 days.
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