WWL>Topics>>5-1-14 2:10pm Angela: on panhandling

5-1-14 2:10pm Angela: on panhandling

May 1, 2014|

Angela talks with State Representative Austin Badon about his proposed anti-panhandling bill and gets the dissenting opinion from Marjorie Esman of the ACLU.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

We're really making one of our big metal ships from a delightful Dixie cups to three other people who are delightful. Three wonderful people here because we're gonna do the subject that needs to be discussed. In -- -- panhandlers on street corners is a bad image for New Orleans a city that invites the world to come and visit. And that works hard to encourage new business to locate here. It's also a negative side for the people who live and work here. And yet it is legal to panhandle in New Orleans. Representative Austin bad on wants to change that. Sponsoring a bill in the legislature that will ban solicitation. Cracking down on panhandling. And prostitution. Also joining him is Michael Harrison who is the commander of the seventh district. And also with this very good friend of the station Marjorie -- head of the American Civil Liberties Union. An organization that has fought for the rights of panhandlers. I want to thank all of you for being here and I want to right from the get go say. I am so proud of this city for its efforts. Ever successful efforts to help with homelessness and even today they have -- to still struggling. But if you look in the last year -- they've accomplished finding homes for homeless people nobody wants to see anybody -- nobody wants to see anybody suffering right. The issue is is different in panhandle. On and that is a -- Marjorie investment start out. Thank you first first analysts say that did we fight for the rights of everybody under the constitution and panhandlers are. Among the people who have constitutional rights to engage interest -- protected activity which is to ask somebody for money. -- courts. The US Supreme Court the Louisiana Supreme Court have all said. That any restrictions on people's right to stop someone and ask them for money is a violation of the first amendment rights so. And I just wanna clarify that it is all right. To have somebody say something to anybody in any time that it is -- -- -- that's and I want to make a different because I really thought about this yesterday. Somebody a man walks up to me and says man to have a dollar. He has that right he has -- at the right to snacking and how popular local waning Norma what everyone's saying man can walk up to me and say man show me your -- it. To -- is the right to say now. What you do after he says that is a different question. But he has the right to say. Ma'am pretty much anything he wants as long as it's not. A direct call to imminent buying. So he can -- mansion -- -- seeking saying man give me dollar -- and manages to bank he wants to. -- Angela there what you -- restrictions on freedom of speech I mean you can't you know. On the plane are. That you have Obama hides it you can't go into a movie the changes yell fire. Because there are some restrictions because those have to do is imminent danger of asking someone for money doesn't put anybody. That's debatable. You know we -- we had a we didn't show real suffering by the people feel. Threatened but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are threatened and you know I like to face -- nobody has the right. Not to have the feelings hurt nobody has the right not to see something that they choose not to sit. On me because we we have a first and then in this country for good reason and and that reason is that the government can't get in the business of deciding what's speeches OK and what speech is not okay. Couple weeks ago we -- a program on the gutter punks. And it was based on the story of the tour guide who was walking through with a group -- seventeen to nineteen year old is giving a tour of the Jackson square. And all of a sudden they were rushed by these better -- And but but in a very threatening way. We want drugs we want this it was. She saw a policeman she runs over she gets them nothing ever happened that's the bottom line that but -- the story was on not to divert from this was. The gutter -- have been around long time. But there is there's a ratcheting up of aggressiveness. And that is different and I think that went even though we will drive by and we see that pour souls with the sign. Male female young old. And they may not be saying anything it to some people with just their presents. Is it is uncomfortable. Well people are uncomfortable by the presence of a lot of if that doesn't make it illegal. But -- the quality of life issue you know and when you have people on every intersection. Every. Exit ramp or -- for -- in your city. It's the quality of life issue and there you know just because somebody stands there and I can give you two cases where I saw personally. Just because somebody stands there and they have a piece of cardboard and they put on it that there be there in Vietnam vet. It doesn't mean that they are Vietnam I mean that's -- a selling pitch to try to get money. And you get the US Supreme Court has ruled that that laws. On. That forbid. Misrepresenting your veteran status are unconstitutional as violations of the first and then you have the right to lion that you veterans stance according to the United States Supreme Court. So. -- do they have the you have the right yes you do and you have the right to stand with the science am hungry. Come on broke even if it's not true you have the right to do that now. On the passer by also has the right to ignore it. To think that maybe you're lying or two or whatever reason choose not to help. But you have the right to stand no in New Orleans we have laws against what's called aggressive soliciting action. And that's a different thing I mean when you. Glad somebody I was a gutter punks -- And by gut it got to -- in the -- -- homeless looking through whatever you want to call them. -- if you grab onto somebody that's an assault that's a different thing. If you verbally threaten someone I'm going to hurt you if you don't give me money that's maybe a difference. And and that is already covered by existing on the city of New Orleans I don't think state one that certainly in the said. But that's very different from somebody holding the sign. Somebody just asking you you know man can you spare some change. You know if we have a problem. With with begging of all different kinds in the city perhaps it's because. We don't have a strong economic base in the city maybe dissolution -- you know provide. -- -- better employment opportunity might repeat might of course in a perfect world that is the answer but. I don't make a lot to various groups that help people more hungry who -- people who need shelter. I don't mean to be passed by somebody in Jakarta. And frankly I don't wanna see it but you don't have the right. To be sheltered from something you don't want. And Angela let me let me go back -- one part we talked about the that aspect. You know providing jobs and things and economic impact. Can tell you you can go into the Mac Donald's -- bowler. Any given morning -- two individuals who sit in the same spot every given morning. Both of them have cell phones. Both of them -- point computers. Their job is to go -- and work the street and big for money. On two different occasions. One at the service wrote on -- and one on saint Claude -- overpass passes over the same club I witnessed. The overseer sitting in a truck. And a guy working history walks over and he empties his pocket and he gives ago the overseer all of his money. That's their job so it pains me when I see people giving them. Their hard earned money because they are but you know be in rooms with some you know legitimate science saying that you know there -- homeless this is their job. And -- the quality of life issues and the unfortunate part about it is. A lot of our people have -- and other places and you don't have to tolerate this kind of behavior. And you say you know. If I'm living in Katy Texas I don't have to see the police department there will not tolerated the government will not tolerate. And so when -- come in New Orleans. I get off the -- video -- and cargo to the stop sign up the street video. Well maybe you don't have police department in Katy Texas is violating people's constitutional rights amenity to wake up. On and not allow that half. And they're protecting their citizens and they're protecting the quality of life for the taxpayers in the citizens who. Invest in their community. Perhaps but there are legal limits to what is permit and you know unfortunately there are times when. On even the most well meaning. Laws cross that not -- And and this is this is an illustration. Of a well meaning line and -- well meaning proposal. That is cross in the -- Okay we're gonna have to take a break -- are I'm so thrilled our phones are lit up stay with us everyone we're talking panhandling we'll be right back. We are talking about panhandling. With Marjorie Aspen with the American Civil Liberties Union and represented -- Austin ban on I want all of our callers to stake. Because we have to bring in and we don't have to we want to bring in commander Michael Harrison with the seventh district you have sort of a different perspective. That needs to be expressed about this issue on panhandle. Yes I do thank you. I receive complaints from citizens in the tool and every day. And a lot of them have to do prostitutes there are a lot of them that have to do and I have never had a complaint. Where system told me they were OK with the all want us to do something about panhandling and prostitutes. Overwhelming questions that we see we don't like we see that your officers see well we treat that you're not doing. So the question is always why aren't you doing. It. And so we give them the -- that would that it is unconstitutional. To stop a person who out there panhandling at this point because it is within their right for money. But it -- quality issues that states and the citizens complain about it you wanna see it. And so they ask us to do some. But there is a difference between asking for money as a pan handler and asking for money as a prostitute to do -- service. Absolutely. And it is against the law to be a prostitute it is against the law prostitute that's correct and so that's what the original purpose of the 1158. I get so many calls that I asked sometime last row prisoner battle through purple some legislation to give us something where week it. Have something which impeachment -- with the deal with the prostitution problem we have laws on the books for prostitutes. Law enforcement officers at this point. We are limited to undercover investigations when we utilized under -- officers to consummate the the vice transaction the money for sex which easily -- and we can make the restaurants schools with a prostitution. We use reversal operations where we put on the oval has opted to catch the potential customers. And when they come in solicited for prostitutes we arrest them as well. However if we catch a prostitute in the act. Which is -- never obviously we can make an arrest but it it -- training on our resources and my job with the balance. The amount of resources we deployed through that verses of our crime and property crime and all the other issues that we deal with. Within districts are tremendous have to -- this what. -- and bad on is doing is is gonna make it easier for you if it passes if it passes we'll make it easier for us to make these all important growth that -- here. So rather than having the undercover officer in through to a transaction sex for money. Rather than having catch -- pass the two in the act. When we see the prostitute soliciting. For write off for money for the specific purpose of gaining the attention of the customer for the purpose of prostitution. We want that to be -- Because we're not always in the position to -- on the call officers will not always in the position to -- a prostitute in the but we see that all the time because the the citizens see it and they. They see it they want us to do something. Andy complained that what we see we know you see it we just wanna know why you can't do one thing. And it's an overwhelming compliant. -- ask questions because I mean I'm looking at existing law. Revised statute fourteen colony 82. It defines prostitution is for solicitation by one person of another with the intent to engage in indiscriminate sexual intercourse with. With a -- with a letter for compensation. So it's basically the solicitation. Of money for us in sex for money that's the definition of prostitution right now. This bill. I think what it's trying to do is say that the illegal act will be stopping somebody and asking them for Iraq with the intent to later solicit them for -- But how on earth do you know if I stopped you and same car broke down. I need a ride home. He gave me a ride home and you say yes sure and I getting a car. How on earth -- you gonna know that I did that with the intention of actually asking you for -- Well that will be the prostitutes defense of course. And where you're broke that are -- like they're likely to use that the defense and any -- -- with the current. I don't have a car. And I need to get -- I mean you know it's people -- people -- all the time and and and the it would what this does I think then is it would create a presumption that asking somebody for a ride. Is tied to -- It's not really asking for it's it's going to be based on the police officers observation. They're experienced. The the area where they all discretion discretion. The appearance of the person that's fly in the call. The body motion and all the different ways that. They would engage in gaining the attention of customer to get accustomed to pull her tongue telling what they could show and what they can't have. Well. There it's Bolton. But what I really thought -- actually illegal anyway north now. It is it is it is against the law through revealed he jumped. And if they're revealing anything it's not already against the long and it's legal for them to do. I mean it's just that's an index of all one complaint the citizens don't want it on the street and -- ethnic people. Well the police why can't you do when -- So I don't know if I have something legislatively where we can do -- Let me ask you something -- -- about the pain is this state this is a state law that you cannot. That you can panhandle because -- other states that don't allow -- it's not stay long that you can't handle. It is the United States Supreme Court that has said that lawns prohibiting panhandling violate the first man. So states that arrest people for panhandling are breaking the law that's -- -- What are these other communities doing that if you say people come in from out of town and go oh my god what's happening here this is. I don't see it my hometown what are they doing. You know the day they evidently must have some kind of local ordinance on the municipality must have some type ordinance which. Is that the look very local level which does not allow it or you you have very strong. Law enforcement agencies who. Just we'll take it amongst themselves and get tired of the the the complaints. And they make these people move along. And so when -- let me just -- my bill would do it's this is shall be unlawful for any person to look to solicit funds or transportation. From another to attract the person's attention for the purpose of soliciting which would encompass -- Pain and that's a very big words that we use in most legislatures. And with the intent to solicit the person sitting -- in indiscriminate sexual intercourse for compensation -- prostitutes. That's what the buildup so it would address both of those issues and is just simply gives law enforcement. Some type of mechanism to be able to go and harass these people and we want him a racist because. They are bringing down the quality of life in. Our city. And when you you know you go to show off endowment I mean you go out there I'm just used for example band of van Chevrolet. Has invested millions. In the -- brand new facility. But they got straight walk -- walking in front of their business at 11 o'clock in the morning and would virtually nothing -- The state the federal government the city in New Orleans has invested billions. In this new hospital of this going on downtown on tooling. You have prostitutes walking in broad daylight children going to school people go on -- work. We don't wanna see we have to stop that kind of behavior in our city we do and a lot in this city our city is go growing. The mayor of the City Council the police department -- working very extensively to improve the quality alert our schools are better. But yet we have these certain individuals who will apply their trade in the middle of the day. We're gonna have to take another break I'm -- -- got to go to the newsroom but stay with us simply stay with us on the phone a promise we'll get to you now let's go to the news. It is legal to panhandle. In our state because of the freedom of speech you can walk up to anyone and ask them to give you money. Austin by -- on representative from a New Orleans wants that to change has a bill. And commander Michael Harrison with the seventh district. Has just expressed. The problems his men and women face on trying to battle trying to keep the quality of life. Because really what you're telling me if what you -- hearing from your constituents. That they don't wanna see the prostitutes out there or the panhandlers out there. But there is we're hearing from Marjorie there are laws on the books that they have certain rights to a certain point not with prostitution but with talking to people. I'm I'm we're gonna get back to all of you but I'd like that to some of our callers sister -- Ellis. And yes oh yes I'm very. Good -- can make a few comments. I -- this is this is a huge problem for our city. I wrote ancient community and -- And -- seat -- breakfast and lunch everyday. If people want to see. Org and told me eat it up full meals each day cooling. Purposely choose to complete deals and -- and -- -- can give up that wonderful meals a day. The problem that I and I agree with that the ban on and pat talk to you it is. It is it is a patient problem. If people out of history. Under the wreckage. So if they buys that some people can got to come out. There's no public restrooms -- round with him for them to use. If the cut out -- a huge -- -- problems we should be at a -- he -- the issue. I quote -- -- mr. ban on. Being able to fit into your group because. If it is not good -- People. People use the money in OP is saying it is not always true perhaps about. The people that come around -- And they get money that goes -- to. Gas station across the street the bar and then they come it's -- ER dot. And it it just not a good image for the quarter of the people around so hats off as the thank you so why. Thank you appreciate the kind of words thank you sister -- let's go to Fernando in -- -- -- I was in the issues have been talking about release dissidents. This could have been talked about street so little but I -- -- because I do love animals. They don't see a lot of the yards all -- You with the ball not at least some rope which concerns me. And I think to ourselves as part for me to feed more problems as -- visited the -- to -- -- Is that legal to him I see them as well. Yeah. See. Let me think I've actually stop ice to keep the bag of dog biscuits in the trunk of my car. And I would see them and I would stop and give the dogs. Because I'm worried they were always appreciated sometimes those of their pets sometimes they're used. Because especially the gutter punks because -- know it's very difficult for the police to pick them and is -- call it -- And these are very sharp people. I'm with you on their sense of that as well and it just an added layer of frustration. Restricting that it sort of concerned but that particular call -- what. Thank you very very much. He's not very true Angela I mean that's specifically why they have these animals is because it makes it difficult for law enforcement. If law enforcement work just for example find some inaudible question and find something on them. What do you do with the do what you do with the -- well they called ES PC in question has very limited and trucks they have I mean it's a whole system you gotta drive across the river down SBC is overcrowded already -- -- -- So we have beaten the system. But let this go back to you know. Marjorie and -- such respect you because you you are protector of laws at the same time I think. Common sense is saying nobody wants to see this -- we don't want to see the prostitutes for the Spanish heavily we don't seem walk in front of the school we don't. We don't want to see the panhandlers. I live down by the convention center there I mean I know them now. And it's. Because I'm coming off all the time. I don't think that they are hungry if I did that I think they're gonna make a buck. Let you know. Nobody has the constitutional right not to be -- Nobody has the constitutional right not to see something that they don't want to see. He didn't have the right to avert your eyes he has the right to ignore something that you don't wanna see. But nobody has the right to be protected from seeing something that doesn't offend them does that community have the right now couldn't write stumpel want to community's rights belong to into the. -- cities have laws and cities have standards and things like that. That if you could say you you can panhandle because you have that right to ask but it can't be in these various areas and it may make it but but. That's not that's not constitutionally permissible meaning you don't wanna go down the road of you know whether certain jurisdictions can have laws that violate. Constitutional rights because you know written the napkin -- we can take and the logical direction that we don't want you know meaning used to be. Right written laws denying people all kinds of rights in you know in this state and we've gone past that. Let me ask you that Marjorie what would you say to the commander who has to listen to. People call voters and and others citizens call all the Don retired saying this we don't like to see this half naked women we don't like to see the panhandlers out there. In our neighborhoods in our community. You know I understand that I mean I'm with Putin and and I understand when people. Are unhappy with changes going on in their neighborhoods or or things that they don't want to see. And you know and I know it's hard to tell people on -- they're just really isn't anything we can do. But sometimes they're just really isn't anything that the law will remain used to -- and passing an unconstitutional. State law. Doesn't really solve the problem you know I mean it was just last year. The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed. With judge Arthur -- in New Orleans who said that -- panhandle and laws were unconstitutional. And he and he. Threw out somebody's charges for panhandling in Louisiana Supreme Court agreed with him is it is. Illegal seat to ban that sort of behavior. Is it just did and and the city attorney in New Orleans ordered the police force -- to stop enforcing the panhandle and wants because. They are not constitutionally our wonderful and I had just the -- that's the legal reality we have. To find another mechanism to address this quality of life issue and what has happened is. Other states I think it was Tennessee may be specifically Memphis has strengthened their laws and this is a home. Sex trade industry a lot of these girls who engage in this behavior also work in a gentlemen's clubs. And so they strengthen their laws and the commander can tell you. Every time -- talked to a young lady. She is from Tennessee on Memphis because they had to get out of there. And our laws are weaker they came here and there working in the oldest profession on a man and that's the sex industry. Well I don't know what the -- dying in Tennessee in Memphis may be their. Constitutional maybe they're not if they are then maybe that's a model to follow but if they're not. You know we certainly don't want following the city of breaking the laws of this of this country real quickly let's go to pearl pearl in New Orleans you bring up a very good point. I am when court for the many years ago there was so. A lot there for you can I call. It occurred. And public debt and eliminate. Maybe eagle -- just -- for. That's a very good question I'm also thinking when you're talking about the guy he's not often bad on who was not taking the money from the guys have been soliciting quietly -- And we need money. The -- as business there's no way to track it. But you know -- this -- this correct I mean you. In that permit would be in place but. I don't know if this deliberately. And unfortunately. Ms. -- just like everybody in this room. -- all the these young people pain and handling and in the sections and you know what it's gonna come down to is gonna come down to a young person. Getting a dollar from somebody in this and -- In the light changing. And that young person running the corals to get back to the new treatment Indians here and killed. Before. A law like this. Is realized that we needed to stop pain and that's what is going to conduct it is. That means it's time for -- pleased with the scholars -- get to -- activists. We're talking about panhandling and we're gonna go to our callers very quickly -- we have a number of them mark and Tyler town. And very good. Want to played. And Allentown and I'll let you know and annual. I'm just there that. What. I'll buy them out about. And we got -- acting but be careful -- you don't take it away. -- from the right because. It would like you know. Orchard we have to constitution. Can be. What I -- but what about my rights what about the what about the rights of the people who don't wanna see what about our. Well about the constitution our constitution I'm not I'm not talking about geno you know you know not like that. Do you write not what not to do that talk about. OK again I think it goes back to the people who don't wanna see it. We have to protect those people we have to do whatever we can't and whether it's in the constitution and I'm a lawmaker. We can change the constitution we do constitutional amendments all the time we got tons of constitution now. Yeah definitely it's an unless there are nine and cut out the bank what Armitage you know if if if at some point. One summit on children. And -- you know. It's like yeah most of that paper but some jail and not by -- -- the other you know it will. I appreciate the call very much for gonna quickly move on to Greg he's been holding on in like few Greg. Yeah yeah yeah it's. You guys we have on the situation Louisiana with -- court in 1970 UB US Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. But yet there -- a reporter duke and why at the world would the state legislature. Ought to pass a law. It's already been ruled unconstitutional. Even the Supreme Court. But you know it is that they only that it legislatures the past. Unconstitutional law why would they want to do and they've got very quiet at our usual. Okay thank you Greg. Who says is unconstitutional. The United States court. Well and then I don't want to get to decide our -- is at the capitol do not. Advise us to pass legislation or promote legislation. That is our constitution they don't have that direction so when I asked them to look at this date so me. That and I'm not an attorney -- told me that they don't see. It constitutional problem with this deal because it's a new. Piece of legislation it's not something that has already been in place that's just what I was until. After making sense if there is a law on the books within the United States constitution says panhandlers have rights is that -- -- saying. -- You know yes and it's called it's called First Amendment will be the first president and next protects and -- -- people to see it. Ask other people for money. Okay that is protected. Under the scope it is broad scope of the first to him as well as -- -- -- is also talking about prostitution which is different than panhandle. Same pain in the behind but different. Because -- prostitution is against the law. And already is against the -- in this we'll do nothing to change it with the exception of requiring. Police officers to. Use. Judgment which unfortunately sometimes result in profiling. To try and read somebody's mind when they ask for a lot of the girls that are dressed as they are and I understand with commanders thing. You know one when you see you know -- of them and we know what they're doing. And if it dressed in a way it is illegal -- they then -- you deal with the fact that their laws that govern the way people are allowed to to dress. I have loved to discount. And I really appreciate the three of you being here and I cannot thank our -- -- I'm sorry we couldn't get everybody but I can see which -- saying and you care. So on both sides. Thank you all we will continue maybe this. After the session see what happens with it. Commander gridlock to thank you very much Marjorie they haven't and I want everyone -- -- -- -- we're gonna do a metal shift for the next hour and we're going to be talking about. It's all business I'm happy talk. We'll be right back.