NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Downtown business owners are talking tough about panhandling, saying it's hurting their business and they want the city to do something about it.
Steve Smith, the owner of several downtown bars including Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk, just released a video showing panhandlers sleeping on the streets and asking for money.
"[Tourists] come from across the globe to see what everyone is talking about, but when they get here, what will they remember,” the voice on the video asks.
The video was initially meant as a video for other business owners, but Smith has since released it to the public in hopes it gets city leaders' attention.
"Here we are spending millions of dollars a year bringing tourists to town and then running them off with the bums and the criminals downtown," says Smith.
In March 2019, Metro Council Member Freddie O'Connell introduced a bill that would ban panhandling within 25 feet of ATM's, 10 feet of the entrance to a business, along the Pedestrian Bridge, on Symphony Place and also along Broadway, among other places.
"All of a sudden yelling, getting in your face, maybe even stopping in front of you and maybe grabbing your clothing," said O’Connell as he was describing aggressive panhandling in Nashville.
O’Connell’s bill passed first reading in March. It was supposed to be taken up in April and May but has been deferred twice. The bill is on the schedule again on June 4.
Steve Smith hopes something will be done.
"They just take it for granted that all we do is rake in money for the city and they don't care about giving us the protection we need, and giving our tourists the protection they need."