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Beggers In Minneapolis May Be Forced To Wear ID Cards

Associated Press | April 28, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS - The police chief wants to license panhandlers, saying it would make it easier for officers to manage aggressive begging in Minnesota's largest city.

Under the plan, panhandlers would have to register each year at a government center and have their picture taken. Anyone failing to wear an ID badge would be jailed for 30 days, and possibly fined.

"The idea is not to penalize people or make them go away," Chief William McManus said Wednesday. "It's just a way to govern how they conduct their business."

Minneapolis already bans panhandling in front of cash machines, bus stops and restrooms.

McManus said he's talked to the City Council about the idea. If a law passed, the city would join a handful of others that license beggars, such as Cincinnati, Dallas and Greensboro, N.C.

Cincinnati's licensing ordinance is being challenged by civil liberties groups that claim begging is protected speech.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said he's not sure he'll support the plan. "I'm interested in looking at innovative ways to handle this, but we need to know more about the details," he said.

Robert Yellow Wolf, a homeless man panhandling on an interstate off-ramp, called the plan "ridiculous," but said: "When you're homeless, you have no say."

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