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Durham Considers Crackdown On Panhandling

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham is considering a crackdown on panhandlers, but the ban on beggars could have a negative effect on licensed vendors.

City leaders say the roadway tactic is simply not safe. The ban targets panhandlers but, because of the First Amendment, any ban would have to encompass all groups raising money at intersections.

J.R. Britt has been selling newspapers at intersections for four years. Britt said he counts on the income because his disabilities make it tough to find work. He said he will not know what to do if the city cracks down on vendors.

"What are we gonna do? This is all we got," he said.

The crackdown would also affect firefighters. For 50 years, firefighters have criss-crossed intersections, filling boots to raise money for muscular dystrophy. Last year's three-day drive brought in $56,000.

"We wouldn't raise near [the amount of] the funds at local shopping malls because we don't get the interaction we do out here on the street," firefighter Kelly McAlexander said.

Several towns have already cracked down on panhandling.

In Raleigh, panhandlers cannot ask for money within 100 feet of an ATM and begging between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. is illegal. Panhandlers must also get a soliciting license. Garner also has the same rules.

In Chapel Hill, there is no begging within 20 feet of an ATM and six feet from a bus stop. Asheville is considering a ban of all panhandling in the downtown area as well as the Biltmore Village.


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