Skip to Content
Everything Else

Oklahoma City planned on releasing an anti-panhandling marketing campaign…

11:22 AM EDT on April 8, 2016

Pan 2

Yesterday, the ACLU of Oklahoma released an investigative report that took a deeper look into the controversial anti-panhandling ordinance that our city passed late last year. Through the investigation, they learned that the ordinance had very little to do with safety, and a whole lot more to do with trying to hide those sad, annoying panhandlers from the eyes people who have to drive from their mansion in Heritage Hills to the Whole Foods on N. Western to get asparagus water.

Via the ACLU website:

Faced with stinging criticism and questions about possible constitutional problems, Oklahoma City municipal officials worked to recast a controversial anti-panhandling ordinance as a public safety tool to ensure its passage and squelch complaints, records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma show.

In addition, city officials delayed the ordinance’s final passage until they could cut an undisclosed deal with the two groups that would be most visibly harmed by the law – the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The records – hundreds of pages of emails and documents – show that city officials only began using the public safety moniker after critics of the proposal raised questions about the constitutionality of the ordinance and its effect on the poor.

Authored by Ward 6 Councilmember Meg Salyer, the anti-panhandling ordinance targeted panhandlers and others who used medians to solicit donations. The ordinance prevents panhandlers and others from using medians less than 30 feet in width, but includes an exemption for individuals responding to an emergency.

Is anyone really surprised by this? As this article from The Oklahoman shows, it seemed pretty clear that "public safety" had nothing to do with the ordinance. It seemed like they just wanted to get rid of panhandlers because they make you feel guilty while you wait for the light to turn green.

We learned a lot of weird, interesting things from the ACLU report. Through an open records request, they uncovered that the original name of the ordinance was literally the "Anti-Panhandling Ordinance." They also learned that the City had planned a marketing campaign to address the issue:

City officials had planned a two-pronged approach to shut down panhandling in the metro area: the new, stronger ordinance and a marketing campaign urging residents not to give to panhandlers, but to contribute to community service organizations.

The marketing plan was to include videos, media releases, brochures, signs, posters and an Internet website.

Kristy Yager, spokeswoman for Oklahoma City’s municipal government, confirmed efforts to develop the campaign. She said her office worked with Upward Transitions and the Homeless Alliance to develop the program in 2014.

In an email to ACLU Oklahoma, Yager said part of the strategy for the campaign was to “raise awareness that giving to panhandlers does not solve their problem and in many cases contributions keep them from getting the help they need.”

Yager described the initial reception to the campaign as “cool.” She said some members of the marketing team were concerned that the campaign could have a negative effect on the poor and how residents view the poor.

Through the Ogle Mole Network, we've got our hands on a mock up of one of the ads. You can definitely see why the initial response on the campaign was "Cool."


Okay, so I may have whipped that up on my own, but if and when they do release the anti-panhandling marketing campaign, they should really go with Fogzie. Not only is he "cool," but we've already paid $80,000 for him. We might as well get all the money out of him that we can.

Anyway, you can check out the entire ACLU report here. It's kind of long, so make sure you're not standing on a median while reading it. They may send you to jail for your safety.

Thanks for reading!

Register or log in to continue.

See all subscription options.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter