I have to qualify what I write before I get into the meat of the subject. I am homeless. I am currently working a temporary job. I have a few people out there that have very generously helped me after reading this blog, seeing my twitter posts or have found me on Facebook. For all of that I am grateful. I send out resumes on a daily basis. I have had a couple interviews. I am bound and determined to work my way out of this situation. However working your way out of homelessness is expensive. I’ve written a couple blog posts regarding this, you can read them about them here The economics of being homeless and Working your way out of homelessness. The temperature has dropped and currently my work situation is not going to last forever. I still have another week before I will even see the first check for it. Reality is that when I am not working occasionally I am honestly panhandling to try and save every penny that I can to get myself out of the situation faster. I am spending as little as humanly possible so I can save. The more I spend now the longer it will take me to get into an apartment. I also must eat, I don’t get any food benefits. I need to do laundry. I need to shower. I am respectful, I have a sign that explains what is going on. I don’t lie. I don’t block traffic. I hold the sign and don’t say a word unless someone says something first or is kind enough to give me something I say thank you. I also separate what little money I have for different things. Daily expenses such as I outline in my blog post. Everything else goes into the I have some type of immediate or emergent need and the apartment fund which doesn’t get touched for any circumstance.
So I had time and I decided with as cold as it was that if I went and panhandled for a couple hours moving around would even keep me warmer. Well I wasn’t long into it. Somewhere where other panhandlers are ALL DAY long and aren’t harassed. Now some of these other panhandlers are overtly aggressive. Walking up to cars, knocking on windows, going between lanes and even blocking traffic. I do not do this. I was approached by a police car that had three officers in it. One officer was the driver and didn’t say anything. One was the passenger and he was actually pretty nice, the third sitting in the back seat did most of the talking. For starters I could hardly hear him through the car. They asked for my identification. They were surprised to see that I possessed a valid drivers license. They asked what I was doing, I told them. The officer in the back kept telling me that I was lying, that I was scamming people. He kept asking me what drugs I do. I told him I don’t know how many times that I don’t do drugs. I told him if he didn’t believe me he could read this blog! So nice cop gets out of the car and asks me if I had anything on my I shouldn’t. I said no and proceeded to tell him what I had in my various pockets. The officer in the back comes out and pulls out my wallet. When he saw the little bit of money that was there that was all he needed to convince himself that I was scamming people. That’s when he said lets cuff him, we’re taking him in. When we got to the station the one that decided I was a menace to society I’m guessing went to do the report. The nice officer was the one that booked me in. He asked a couple of questions that I answered. When he found out I was a veteran he said you should’ve said something sooner. Well I didn’t think that had any bearing on the situation. I told him about this blog and even pulled it up on my phone for him so he could see I was being honest. Then he said if you have anything on you that you shouldn’t I’m going to let you go to the bathroom and shut the door. He asked this multiple times as well. I had to tell him multiple times again that I don’t do drugs. God forbid that someone who is homeless and panhandling isn’t on drugs. He searches me and finds nothing. Then his partner shows back up and says I want to take him to county for lying to us. Well I’m thankful that the nice one was there because he stopped that. Then I got to go through the booking procedure before being released.
Now through the whole discussion the nice officer told me where I should go to panhandle. I was in District 1, he said to go across the bridge in the same area it was a different district and they won’t do anything. Tell me how that makes sense? Also I was told that I was lying multiple times. I offered ways to verify that I wasn’t. That wasn’t good enough for the one officer, what he chose to hear was enough. So I think in my mind that someone in a more powerful position is telling them to do something in a certain area and not others. I’ve since tried to look up the actual panhandling ordinance in Chicago and a screen shot from the link posted on the website for the city comes up below. You can’t view it! So I managed to find it elsewhere and to say it is contradictory is an understatement. It also states what the definitions of aggressive panhandling is. The city has been sued multiple times and panhandling has been deemed to be a right protected under the first amendment on the constitution. The city even settled a class action lawsuit that paid panhandlers $400 each a few years back! Now if you read what I have since found I was in an area that could be deemed a gray one by the ordinance. However there is also another ordinance that states that charitable organizations can do everything that individuals can not! They can walk in between traffic and aggressively solicit. I’m a big supporter of charities being able to solicit funds, but isn’t that a little discriminatory against the individual? I do plan on going to court for the violation. They could have just as easily have said leave and I would have. For those interested the officer that was not very understanding was Police Officer D. Walker, badge #17817, Chicago Police Department District 1.
So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.
If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60