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Widower argues to ban panhandling in Baltimore

Posted at 5:32 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 17:36:53-05

The call started with the widower himself.

After explaining how his wife was stabbed to death while handing over a 10-dollar bill to a woman in need this weekend, he immediately pivoted to pressuring the city to ban all soliciting at city intersections.

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He wants a law in his wife's name

“That's what I am going to push for and I want to make it in my wife's name, Jacquelyn Smith. She didn't die in vain. She didn't die in vain. I am gonna make sure she didn't,” Keith Smith said.

Baltimore city Councilman Eric Costello says he would listen to Mr. Smith.

“It is something I have been talking about for a long time,” Costello said, “I would certainly be receptive to a legislative remedy ”

And it's not just the begging for money, it's the danger of it all.

Video from back in October of a squeegee kid getting run over amplifies that issue but the councilman says soliciting is also a concern at many corners in the city.

Drivers have been complaining, businesses too; Costello says, maybe it is time to look at a tougher remedy.

“Absolutely. It is beyond a boiling point. We were at a boiling point far before this tragic incident occurred.”

But the president of Healthcare for the Homeless says before that pot boils over...the city needs to turn down the temperature.

“Tougher anti-public begging laws only exacerbates the problem,” said CEO Kevin Lindamood.

He added laws can further criminalize begging and may only serve to widen the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Many cities in the country are seeing an increase in panhandling as Lindamood argues the economy is worsening for some.

He hopes for a more holistic approach.

“That disparity, it ought to make us uncomfortable, we ought to wrestle with it and grapple with it and not try to distance ourselves from it.”

ALSO RELATED: 54-year-old woman stabbed to death trying to give panhandler money