While some legislators and city and town officials from Providence to Newport explore ways to curb panhandling in Rhode Island, many of you, in a WhatsUpNewp and WhatsUpRhode Island poll, have made it clear that you want to see panhandlers disappear from city and town street corners.

Overwhelmingly you said that panhandlers pose a safety threat to either drivers or themselves, although most of you didn’t feel you have been personally threatened by a panhandler. And you were pretty consistent when it came to contributing to panhandlers and believe their legitimacy. Most of you felt panhandlers are not legitimately in need, and you don’t contribute to panhandlers. Here are the specific results:

  • Do you agree that panhandlers create safety concerns for drivers and/or themselves? Yes = 143 No = 37
  • Have you personally felt threatened by a panhandler? Yes = 68     No = 112
  • Do you believe that most panhandlers are legitimately in need? Yes = 44    No = 136
  • Do you ever contribute to panhandlers? Yes = 33     No = 147

Two legislators are poised to introduce anti-panhandling legislation, with the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union say attempts to eliminate “peaceful solicitations for money” are a violation of First Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Charlene Lima , D- Cranston wants o ban drivers from passing something (cash) to a pedestrian. Rep. Robert Nardolillo, R-Coventry wants to outlaw standing on the median on state highways. Meanwhile ordinances have been proposed in Providence and Newport.

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.