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Puyallup panhandling gets violent

Post by Melissa Santos / The Olympian on Jan. 28, 2009 at 10:13 am with No Comments »
January 28, 2009 10:13 am

There’s a reason Puyallup officials quickly approved an ordinance banning aggressive panhandling last night.

Apparently there are turf wars going on between Puyallup’s beggars.

The kicker for me: Puyallup’s homeless apparently have cell phones.

According to a police report, police responded to two men fighting at the off-ramp from Highway 167 to North Meridian Street Sept. 14.

The men involved said they were fighting over who got to “fly” — or hold signs asking for money — at the intersection.

One man said the other started swearing at him and and “pulled out a 4 to 6-inch knife and started waving it around.”

The unarmed man said he then reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone and called 9-1-1.

The other man then grabbed the unarmed man’s phone, threw it to the ground and broke it.

Then all hell broke loose (my words, not the report’s). The man with the broken phone started wailing on the man who allegedly had the knife. The man who had the knife ended up on the ground and got kicked in the head.

When police arrived, the fight was already broken up.

Officers arrested the man who broke the phone for malicious mischief and weapons possession, and the other man was booked for fourth-degree assault. They took a fold-up knife and a broken cell phone into evidence.

Under Puyallup’s new ordinance to curb panhandling, begging for money at locations like cash machines, freeway off-ramps and bus stops will be banned.

No word yet on whether or not the new ordinance will cause transients trouble when it comes time to pay their cell phone bills.

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