Beggars continue to violate the law by walking in the street and harassing motorists who refuse to give them money. Why won't the police and the Mitchell Administration take a tough stand on this? This behavior is not protected by the first or any amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

After months of hearing from listeners who said were being intimidated by beggars at the Coggeshall Street entrance to Market Basket, I witnessed it this morning with my own eyes and ears.

It has become customary for the panhandlers to operate in the street so as to avoid the jagged cobblestones on the median strip at this location. This allows them to get closer to the driver's side window of motorists who are forced to stop to wait for the light to change. What I witnessed this morning, though, confirms what I have been told: at least one of these clowns is approaching cars, staring down the driver and unleashing a volley of expletives when no donation is given.

This is wrong, it is illegal and it is unacceptable.

Panhandlers (Barry Richard photo for TSM)
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

The Mitchell Administration must take immediate action to protect citizens and visitors to our city at stop lights from being harassed by beggars who have been pretty much given free rein at our busy intersections. No one should have to feel afraid or intimidated while stopped at a stoplight.

New Bedford politicians have, for the most part, ignored this problem that is quickly turning into a public safety issue. We are living in fear of upsetting the American Civil Liberties Union and as a result, the quality of life for some of our citizens has been diminished.

If you are sick of reading my opinion pieces on this matter, I am equally as sick of having to write them. We need leadership on this issue that puts the safety of our citizens first, and not the interests of those who threaten their safety and security.

Every time you see a beggar in the street or intimidating someone, notify the police and Mayor Mitchell's office immediately. Perhaps that will motivate them to do something to solve the problem. Let's make this an important issue in the upcoming citywide election and don't accept that there is nothing that can be done about it.

Perhaps we need to start pressuring the merchants in that plaza to lean on the politicians by threatening to shop elsewhere unless the matter is sufficiently addressed.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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