‘You are failing us’: Resident calls on leaders to fix ‘aggressive panhandling’ issue along Myrtle Beach Boardwalk
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - One woman had some harsh words for Myrtle Beach leaders as she addressed aggressive panhandling in the city, especially along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk.
Jo Cooper walks on the Boardwalk frequently, but she said the activity is becoming less enjoyable because of people repeatedly approaching her for money.
“We’ve got to do something,” Cooper said. “I’m counting on y’all to do it. I can’t do it.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Cooper told councilmembers that she was approached by a man on the Boardwalk, demanding she purchase a drone, further stating he needed money for food.
Cooper said she politely denied his request. That’s when she said the man got visibly upset and loud.
Cooper went on to describe several similar incidents that she witnessed on the same day during her walk along the Boardwalk. She said she’s fed up and called on city leaders to fix it.
“I don’t care what marvelous things we’re doing building-wise. When people can’t enjoy a beautiful day on one of the most iconic strips along the entire East Coast of the United States without being accosted multiple times, you are failing us miserably,” Cooper said to the city council.
Cooper told councilmembers she previously contacted the Myrtle Beach Police Department during other panhandling incidents and the police responded to every call.
Cooper said she did not have a cellphone on her during this latest interaction, but she added that aggressive panhandling should not be anything residents or tourists should have to be constantly bombarded with on the beach.
Myrtle Beach City Manager Jonathan “Fox” Simons said aggressive panhandling is a big concern for Myrtle Beach leaders. So much so, they met with the police department and other parties on Tuesday to address the issue during an internal staff meeting.
“The first thing you need to do is call 911 so we can address the problem. It is a big concern of ours. We are actively talking about solutions and proactive measures to take to address the problem. This is a societal issue, we’re not going to arrest our way out of this. This is not a police department issue. It’s going to take a lot of folks working together to try and address this the best we can. What that looks like- we’re going to start bringing some solutions to the table here in the future, see what we can do,” Simons said.
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Simons said these types of concerns are one of the reasons why the city has installed emergency phones along the beach. One is located at the Second Avenue Pier, the other at Plyler Park.
The phones allow you to immediately call 911 for emergency help. There’s also a separate 211 line for other services, which includes mental health support and locating a food pantry.
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