Columbia police arrested four people Thursday for aggressive panhandling near a busy shopping center at the corner of Trimble Road and Brickton Road.Levi Monie-Turnlow, Bobbie Leos, Erma Boyd and Joe Rosales were picked up for misdemeanor panhandling, a violation of a 2000 city ordinance. The CPD arrest report said the four had been arrested for harassing customers and interfering with traffic.Businesses in the Broadway Bluffs shopping center told ABC 17 News they see panhandlers at that intersection almost every day. Every few weeks, the panhandlers approach customers walking to their vehicles.”They’d approach us saying, ‘Can you give me $20?'” said Aesthetic Studio owner Mary Piper. “All kinds of excuses, ‘I’m out of gas, I need food.’ They were very aggressive, coming right up, knocking on your door, scaring you.”Section 16-186 “Unlawful panhandling” prohibits panhandling to people in their cars. It also prohibits panhandling between sunset and sunrise. But an employee at Robinson’s Cleaners said the panhandlers often come out as the sun is going down and had harassed customers there for a cell phone to use.Back at Aesthetic Studio, Mary Piper said she was pleased the city had finally made an arrest at the intersection, but would like more proactive patrols there.”I think if we got rid of [the panhandlers on the street corner], we wouldn’t be getting approached in our parking lots,” she said.
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