Seattle, you should be proud.
Last week, the Seattle City Council considered an unnecessary and divisive ordinance empowering the police to give out $50 tickets to people who panhandle. Similar measures have been introduced in other cities. While the measure passed by a 5-4 margin, four Council members, Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, and Tom Rasmussen, recognized this law could be used to improperly target poor people and people of color while doing nothing to improve public safety. They voted against it, and Mayor Mike McGinn vetoed the measure on Friday.
My opinion? Sure, nobody likes being panhandled. But criminalizing it? C’mon, I’m sure taxpayers don’t want money spent jailing panhandlers!!! Additionally, the civil rights violations and exposure to liability makes this bill extremely undesirable. The Mayor and Seattle Council “got it,” and voted/vetoed intelligently. Let’s thank these champions for taking a courageous stand for civil liberties!