Anti-begging demonstrators in Grand Rapids, panhandlers argue they are doing “nothing wrong”

Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-08 00:21:44-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - For six week the group 'West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandlers' has been trying to raise awareness of what they are calling a scam.

The group says if people want to give to charity, there are alternatives to handing someone a dollar out of a car window as you are passing by.

For hours Sunday afternoon the demonstrators held signs of their own with slogans like, "Real change not spare change".  The motto refers to giving to a local shelter rather than giving money to someone standing on the corner with a sign.

FOX 17 spoke with a local panhandler who says the group will confront the beggars and try to get them to abandon the corner.

One panhandler told us they are doing nothing wrong by holding a sign in an attempt to get money from strangers passing by.

"People have the right to hand over a dollar, or change, or a pop, or chips, or whatever they feel that person may need," said a panhandler who identified himself as Jeff.

Panhandling is allowed in Grand Rapids as long as the person does not approach people and badger them for a hand-out.

Bryan Hudson from the group 'West Michigan Hardly Homeless' said, "I think people give because it makes them feel good but what they fail to realize is that they are feeding an addiction."

He went on to say, "You are not helping these people.  All you are doing is creating their death and you don't even see it."

This is the third demonstration in West Michigan this summer.  Other events were held in Holland and Muskegon.