Last week a panhandler came into a CTA train car asking for money. One of the passengers left a couple of bucks on the seat as he was getting up and to his surprise received something in return.
The panhandler followed the Lakeview resident off the train at the Belmont stop and gave the man something for his generosity.
What did the panhandler give the passenger? Would you believe he gave him a sucker punch to the head?
“He said something along the lines of, ‘You left me that money?’ and I said ‘Yeah, that’s for you,’” said the victim. “Next thing I know I’m being sucker-punched in the face.”
A number of good Samaritans stayed with the victim, while two witnesses chased the assailant and pointed him out to police officers, who arrested him near Clark Street.
It is great to see the average citizen stepping up and taking positive action to put these thugs away and help the crime victims. They were able to do it without getting injured themselves.
There are a few lessons to be learned from this.
1) Don’t give money to panhandlers! If you really want to do some good give the money to an organization that works with the homeless. They will make sure it will be spent properly.
2) If you are going to give money to a panhandler when riding the CTA hand it to them. Don’t throw it at them or leave it sitting on the seat. In this case leaving the money on the seat didn’t turn out very well. The victim, who asked that his name not be published, suffered a concussion, fractured ribs, and a laceration to his cheek that required 15 stitches to close.
3) When confronted by an aggressive panhandler while walking down the street step around them and say “not today.” Don’t get into a conversation or belittle them. Most panhandlers are just looking for a handout not a fight, but if you say the wrong thing you just may end up having to defend yourself.
4) If you do decide to give them money while out on the street don’t let them see how much money you have with you. If they are looking for more than a handout you may be inviting an attack.
5) If an aggressive panhandler steps into your path don’t stop. Keep moving around him and put your hand up and extend your arm slightly to keep space between you and them. Some of them suffer from schizophrenia and may lash out at you.
The Christmas season brings out our generosity like no other, and if the economy continues to sputter you may see more people asking for a handout. Some may be in real need of a meal others are going to spend it on alcohol and drugs.
Don’t give money to panhandlers. If you really want to help then find a charity that deals with the poor and homeless and donate the money to them.
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