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Managing Panhandlers
no panhandling

While residents and businesses in Brooklyn Center are generous, giving money to panhandlers has unintended consequences and does not provide long-term solutions for those in need. Many communities in the metro area experience the negative effects of panhandlers. The courts have ruled that panhandlers are protected by the First Amendment and may stand passively and display their signs. However, they may not behave aggressively or interfere with traffic flow. If you notice aggressive behavior or interference with traffic, please call 911 so an officer may respond.

People often feel uncomfortable when approached by someone who is soliciting money.  The following information provides tips for responding to panhandlers, ways to make wise donations, and resources for those in need.

Tips for Responding to Panhandling
If you are approached by a panhandler or someone soliciting money, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Do not provide money to panhandlers even if they dress to play to your sympathy or use techniques to amuse you.  Politely say “No” or “Sorry.” Pulling out your purse or wallet can also make you a potential victim of a crime.
  • Aggressive panhandling is illegal. If you feel threatened, call 911. Examples of aggressive behavior include:
    • Confronting someone in a way that would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily harm 
    • Touching someone without his or her consent 
    • Continuing to panhandle or follow someone after he or she has refused to give money 
    • Intentionally blocking or interfering with the safe passage of a person or vehicle
    • Using obscene or abusive language toward someone while attempting to panhandle him or her
    • Acting with intent to intimidate someone into giving money
  • If you would like to help people in need, donate wisely to the organizations that exist to help them.  You can get the most positive results from your donation if you donate to charitable organizations. Visit the Get Involved & Make a Difference webpage and Donation Guidelines webpage. 

Available Resources
A variety of resources and non-profit partners are available in Brooklyn Center and the greater metro area to help those who are in need. These organizations provide a local food shelf, assist with housing needs, and assess physical and mental health needs. Donating to these organizations helps support long-term solutions.  A few resources for panhandlers and homeless people include:

  • Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) is the local food shelf. Contact or call (763) 566-9600. Contact CEAP for their hours of operation.
  • United Way 2-1-1 provides referrals to resources and assistance for many issues. Visit, or call 211, or Local (651) 291-0211, or Toll-free (800) 543-7709. 211 is available 24 hours a day, every day.

Options for Businesses and Property Owners
Businesses and property owners can order panhandlers off their property and the Police Department will assist in the notification and removal process. Additionally, Police staff can give written notice that those parties may not return in accordance with Minnesota State Statute 609.605 Trespassing.  This law states a person is in violation of State Law if the person: 
    (3) trespasses on the premises of another and, without claim of right, refuses to depart from the premises on demand of the lawful possessor;

    (4) occupies or enters the dwelling or locked or posted building of another, without claim of right or consent of the owner or the consent of one who has the right to give consent, except in an emergency situation;

People who violate the Statute after notice are in violation of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine.

Negative Impact of Panhandling
Panhandling has negative effects on the community.  Residents and businesses voice concerns about this issue.  Some concerns include that residents or visitors to our community may feel unsafe or intimidated by the panhandlers.  Panhandlers promote a negative image of the community. Businesses may suffer if panhandlers are present near their businesses or in the parking lots since customers tend to avoid areas where panhandlers beg. The Police Department has found that panhandlers often want money instead of other assistance in order to purchase alcohol or illegal drugs.  Residents have reported that panhandlers have misrepresented themselves and their use of the money.

Use your money wisely, do not give money to panhandlers!