Unfortunately, the stereotypes that surround those who are poor and homeless carry over into the way our media portrays things. Nowhere is it more evident than in the Buffalo News headline “Panhandler Gets 3-Year Prison Term for Assault”. The story is behind the jump.
You will see that a man assaulted an Allentown bar patron with a chain and padlock and got 3-years in jail – a sentence which he clearly deserves.
However, what, if anything, did panhandling have to do with this scenario? It is said that Hicks assaulted the man when he refused to give Hicks money outside Nietzsche’s bar in Allentown. That doesn’t sound like “panhandling gone wrong” – that sounds like a mugging gone wrong. And assault. If I ask someone for money and they don’t give me any and then I beat them up – that is assault – not panhandling.
Some may say that panhandling was merely a step, and that this assault was an escalation of that step. But not so. Asking for money on the street is entirely different than beating someone up on the street.
Those who are poor, those who choose to panhandle (and, keep in mind, are not necessarily homeless), are not criminals – nor are they violent – simply because of their poverty.
Panhandler gets 3-year prison term for assault
By Matt Gryta NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: 08/27/08 11:46 AM
Steven D. Hicks, a notorious Buffalo panhandler, today was sentenced to state prison for the next three years.
Erie County Judge Shirley Troutman ordered him to state prison for attacking an Allentown bar patron with a chain and padlock last spring when victim refused to give him any money.
The 50-year-old Hicks, who has a history of previous violent incidents and prison terms for two earlier assaults in 1981 and 1994, declined comment as the judge warned him against any further such assaultive behavior after prison.
Hicks has been jailed since his arrest minutes after the early morning attack outside Nietzsche’s bar about 1:30 a.m. May 15.
Prosecutors Sarah A. Filocamo and Lauren Tamparo said Hicks was arrested in Days Park near the bar minutes after he beat a bar patron on the head, causing a wound that took 16 stitches to close after that man refused to give him money outside the bar.
Hicks, whose last known address was on East Tupper Street, pleaded guilty to a second-degree assault charge for the latest incident.