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20-minute rotation?

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

By The Staff

Last week we published a story about undercover deputies being attacked by a couple of panhandlers.

One of the things that stood out on the report was the fact that the suspects told the deputies, who were not easily identifiable, that they’d have to wait their turn because the panhandlers, on State Road 200 near County Road 484, were on a 20-minute rotation.

A 20-minute rotation? Wait their turn? What is this, the Ocala Union of Panhandlers, Inc.?

Everyone wants to help people who are down and out, especially those who are in that condition through no fault of their own. But you can’t help but think that the words and actions of the two men arrested a couple of weeks ago will work against the panhandlers here in the Corridor area.

Many of those living in this area want to see these people go away. They don’t want to be accosted on their way to the stores and/or restaurants. But the courts have made it hard to get rid of the panhandlers, although it isn’t against the law to jail them when they start getting into fights with each other to protect their turf. And that’s apparently what they thought they were doing when they attacked the new guy on the block who wasn’t “waiting his turn.”

There are many dedicated people working with social service agencies to provide help to individuals who need it, and we hope some of these people would avail themselves of those services, and not either create problems or fall victim to others on the street corners.

The public does have to remember that not all the panhandlers are guilty of assault. Some may be truly down and out and needing help. How you decide whether to donate is up to you.

We also hope law enforcement continues its efforts to clean this mess up. The recent arrests had a noticeable effect on the number of panhandlers. Let’s hope the trend continues that way.