City Council unanimously adopts new panhandling ordinance
Violators could face a $500 fine and jail time
RAPID CITY S.D. – After a rather tense Rapid City Common Council meeting on Monday night, the council unanimously adopted new rules for panhandling downtown. The vote was met with a chorus of vocal opposition.
The new ordinance cracks down on aggressive panhandling downtown. It expands the policy to include actions that are ‘threatening, aggressive, or strike fear in others.’ Violators could face a $500 fine and jail time.
Critics of the new ordinance like Cante Shontae, said it’s too vague, and could target some of Rapid City’s Native American population.
“When we go up to people to ask for money, we don’t have a gun or a knife pointed at them, we’re just asking for some pocket change, something to eat,” Shontae said.
Supporters say the city already has resources in place to help people facing homelessness. They say the Care Campus, the Cornerstone Rescue Mission and other organizations can help lift people out of poverty.
Others argue that when solicitation crosses a line, action should be taken.
“When we experience the aggressive behavior, someone is encroaching on the rights of someone else,” said Alderwoman Lisa Modrick.
During the discussion, Alderman Jason Salumun said that just having this conversation is the first step toward improving relations between the city’s Native and white communities.
“There’s deeper issues that we have to continue to talk about. We’re all brothers and sisters,” Salamun said.
But others disagree.
“It just flies in the face of what they say they stand for,” said Julie Santella, a community member opposed to the new ordinance. “The say they want to work together and hear people, how does throwing people and jail and giving them a five-hundred dollar fine help toward that goal?”
The new ordinance goes into effect in 20 days.