Officials say a proposed new ordinance that would prohibit aggressive panhandling was prompted by a group claiming to be affiliated with a Texas church, the Portales News-Tribune reported.
The Portales mayor, chief of police and city councilors have received numerous complaints about the group that has been seen on 18th Street and Avenue D, wearing orange vests, aggressively asking for money, the News-Tribune said.
“We had so many complaints from citizens,” Mayor Sharon King told the News-Tribune. “I think the real problem is how aggressive they were. That was what really got to people.”
King said aggressive panhandling is asking for money by intimidating or obstructing the way of motorists — not having the motorist motion people to come to their vehicle, the paper reported.
The mayor said research shows the organization the panhandlers claim to be raising money for does not exist, the News-Tribune said.
“They’ve been aggressive; they’ve been seen intimidating motorists, and they’re claiming to be affiliated with a church, which they are not,” Police Chief Doug Jones told the News-Tribune. “They’re bilking our local citizens out of money.”