It is, perhaps, just another testimonial to Madison Park’s isolation from the normal froth of urban living that the sudden introduction of a panhandler into our midst should prove so disturbing—at least to some residents. As we reported last week, someone actually assaulted this guy, who has been cadging at the northeast corner of 41st E. and E. Madison for the past couple of weeks. The verbal and physical violence of that incident are certainly not reflective of our community values, and it appears that the perpetrator is not even a resident of the Park. But the assumption apparently underlying his deranged act—that beggars should not be seen on the streets of Madison Park—is a view that many people living here apparently either tacitly support or at least understand. One resident told me “we really shouldn’t allow it.” She was referring to panhandling, not physical assaults. And I’ve heard even more hard-hearted reactions from others who live here.
The man doesn’t seem to be particularly aggressive, or at least I’ve never seen him accost anyone. He’s the same guy, by the way, who used to sell Real Change newspapers in front of Bert’s (on the northwest corner of the same intersection). He told me that the management of Bert’s didn’t like him bothering their customers and asked him to move to a different location. When he moved across the street he didn’t take the papers with him, deciding that he would just ask people for money.
Is this a better-paying gigue than selling papers? He’s not saying, but the implication seems pretty clear. He could still sell papers if he wanted to, apparently. But he doesn’t. “I’m not sellin’ nothin’,” he told me, in a not belligerent way.
The guy who beat him up was hauled off to jail, and the signs that the attacker (or someone else) posted high on a telephone pole at that corner have since been removed. One sign read “The hungry 1s (ones) don’t beg.” This was the other sign: