What Panhandlers Don't Want You To See - KTUL.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma - News, Weather & Sports

What Panhandlers Don't Want You To See

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The water, the waves and the want of what's inside your wallet.

"This is Venice Beach, this is California."

There's a growing number of cities with individuals who want a share of the American dream... on their terms.

"It's basically how America was formed, and that's called hustling," says one man on Venice Beach.

Men, women, young and old, fighting to survive.

"Hey can you tip the bucket, that's how I make a living."

From the skyline of LA and the Hollywood freeway. Los Angeles problems are also Tulsa's. Panhandlers have become fixtures at busy intersections, exit ramps and stoplights. The homeless and hungry who kindly accept your donations are not so kind when a camera records their activities like with panhandlerJason Bond.

"Check this out, you taking a picture of me, I'm kicking your ****," says Bond.

When panhandlers knew they were being recorded they became visibly upset or angry, at times flipping us off, moving away from our camera, and packing it in.

"We're not considering who we're giving our money to," says Whitaker.

Steve Whitaker runs the John 3:16 Mission and advises don't give panhandlers cash.

"We don't really know what the circumstances are and frankly we're making the problem worse," says Whitaker.

Whitaker estimates 100 to 170 people panhandle in Tulsa.

"People in Tulsa are more generous, says Tulsa Deputy Police Chief Dennis Larsen with a new and shocking discovery about panhandlers.

"They are one of a group of five or six individuals who decided they would caravan over from Oklahoma City to Tulsa and when you ask them why, they say Tulsans are simply more generous," says Larsen.

This was confirmed by one of the panhandlers in Tulsa who at times says he doesn't even need a hungry, homeless or God Bless you sign.

"Actually I just sit there and people will walk up to me and hand me money,"

Money you give, often to support an addiction.

"We panhandle just to make it and drink, out here you have drink 'cause it's no fun," says Prince.

Kicked off the premises of a thriving business for panhandling, they return to what they know.

"We're going to buy a half a G and we're going to get drunk for a little while and go somewhere else and do it again," says Prince.

A reality, mental health experts have known along.

"It's not about food, It's about money, it's money for substances," says Michael Brose who runs the Mental Health Association.

"And when you tell people that, there's like an awakening, an awareness, wow I didn't know that, I don't want to contribute to their addiction issue, well that's what you're doing," says Brose.

It's a story, panhandlers hope you never see.

"Tell him to get that out of my face," says Bond. "He's in a public space. You're gonna get yourself in trouble that way sir," says the officer. "Well he is too," says Bond.

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