Men on the Street

July 15, 2005 at 2:15pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Is it just me, or have there been more transients hanging around Downtown these past couple weeks? Having lived, attended school, and/or worked in and around Downtown since 1997, I’ve become pretty familiar with the transient population in Downtown Lincoln. I don’t know them by name or anything, but I can tell you which men have been around for a while, which ones I haven’t seen in a long time, and so on.

There is always turnover, of course. But recently there seems to have been a sizable influx of new men hanging around. (Sizable is, of course, relative. I’m talking a half dozen or so individuals.) What makes them noticeable is that they don’t seem to “fit in”—they hang out in unusual places, for example. And most noticeably, they panhandle. The regulars almost never actively solicit assistance from the average passer-by.

This new batch of transients hasn’t caused any problems to my knowledge, so their presence isn’t really something to be concerned about. But they have been noticed, not just by me, and not just by people who would be the type to notice these sorts of things. It really makes you wonder who these guys are, why and how they came here, and why they all showed up at pretty much the same time. In fact, that wonder may be a good thing. It may get the average Lincolnite to think a bit more about Lincoln’s homeless and transient populations. Or it may have negative consequences, perhaps scaring folks out of going Downtown.

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Mr. T July 16, 2005 at 1:13am

Although I have heard stories from friends, the most aggressive panhandlers I have ever seen were actually here in Lincoln about 6 weeks ago. It was a weekday and I was sitting at one of the downtown Doozy’s outside tables around lunch time. There were a group of about 3 guys at the corner yelling at passer-bys, following women, stopping women on the sidewalk, etc.. I was amazed that no one called the police and this went on for as long as I was there.

I saw the same group a few days later I believe.

Panhandlers - sad to say - have become an expected part of any urban environment. The most I have ever encountered are in particular neighborhoods of DC and Seattle. I realize a number of panhandlers are indeed mentally ill, homeless people who have fallen through the safety net, and I have many times before given pocket change to some I have encountered on the street (in DC), if for any reason an instinctive sense of pity and guily. Yet I have never been followed or agressively harassed like the little crew I saw doing to people in Lincoln.

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