Our most popular read this week was about the anti-panhandler social media activity of the Federal Hill Hospitality Association, a nonprofit that represents “roughly 20 restaurants and bars” in the South Baltimore neighborhood, according to its website.
This month, the group began posting some pointed messages on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, instructing locals to “#reclaimBALTIMORE” by ceasing to give money to panhandlers. This week, the group regularly posting photos with captions recommending neighbors and patrons use their dollars and change for gas or to pay for parking, instead of giving them to those begging for assistance on the corners and sidewalks. The group has also said it’s called the cops on panhandlers. Some tweets tagged city officials and even the U.S. Justice Department to try to bring attention to the matter.
City residents have lashed back at the campaign online, saying it casts an uncharitable and exclusionary light on the neighborhood’s popular bars and restaurants. The organization’s leaders still haven’t returned requests for comment and couldn’t be reached by phone on Friday, but appear to be defending their stance. In subsequent replies, the group said it really wants to help those less fortunate, tweeting in one instance, “We want the city to help get treatment and we do not want them panhandling and walking to Sharp Leadenhall for a fix.”
Here were our other most popular reads this week: