I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I’ve been repeatedly harassed by a panhandler for almost two years. This man has been around for several years, but the first time he really singled me out was in November 2008. He was standing in front of Borders, supposedly collecting for a food drive. I have since heard from various sources that his food drive is bogus. To everyone else, he was saying, “Would you like to donate to the homeless food drive?” But as soon as he saw me, he started shouting insults and foul language. I went into Borders and told the manager, and she called the police. Meanwhile, she went outside to talk to him, and he insulted her as well. He disappeared before the police showed up.
A few months later, this same man bothered me again in front of Borders, calling me “retarded-looking”, among other insults. Ever since then, I’ve tried to avoid him. But then, on April 14, 2010, he singled me out again. This was on my birthday, and I was going to a restaurant where I had a dinner reservation when I saw him sitting on a bench in front of a textbook and supply store in the same part of town as Borders. I crossed the street as soon as I saw him, but he shouted across the street at me, “Retarded-ass woman!” I was so upset that I wanted to call the police right then, but I didn’t want to be late for my birthday dinner (even though I couldn’t enjoy it very much).
After that, I’ve continued to try to avoid this man whenever I could, often walking way out of my way when I happen to spot him. My most recent encounter with him happened last Thursday, when I was eating at a pizza restaurant and he sat down at an outdoor table and stared at me. I told the person who was working at the cash register, and he went outside to tell him to go away. The panhandler left, but I saw him stick out his tongue at me. I asked the man at the restaurant whether anyone else has had trouble with this man, and he said he’s never bothered anyone in the store, but he’s “sort of crazy”. People at Borders have told me that I’m not the only one he bothers, though.
I have written two letters to the Ann Arbor City Council about this man, one right after my birthday and another two months later, but I have not received as much as an acknowledgment in response. I also know that Ann Arbor has a law against panhandling within twelve feet of the entrance to a store, and he constantly violates this law, but the City Council won’t do anything about it.
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan