An ordinance aimed at aggressive beggars seems to have reduced the number of confrontations between panhandlers and pedestrians, but didn't prevent the death of a passer-by who said no.
Seattle's law went into effect Nov. 27, after years of attempts by some officials and downtown businessmen alarmed by pushy beggars. The law has served as a model for at least two other cities."There has been a significant reduction in the amount of aggressive behavior along with panhandling," said Capt. Jim Deschane, commander of the city's West Precinct, which includes the Pioneer Square district, where many confrontations took place before the ordinance went into effect.
"Some of them were pretty frightening," said John Gilmore, executive vice president of the Downtown Seattle Association. "I don't see them there anymore."
Still, on July 9, a man who told a woman panhandler to get a job was knocked unconscious by the woman's boyfriend, and died two days later, authorities said. James Nightwolf, who had a record of violent behavior, was charged with second degree murder, said homicide Sgt. Joe Sanford.
The ordinance, which prohibits panhandlers from intimidating or blocking passers-by, carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.