Panhandler's Sign Getting Lots Of Attention

GREENSBORO, NC -- A WFMY News 2 Facebook fan posted a photo of a homeless man panhandling for money in Greensboro - his sign is what got all the attention.

The sign wording also sparked calls and e-mails into our newsroom. Many wanted to know if it was joke.

WFMY News 2 has discovered the sign is real, but the message is not. The man holding the sign calls himself "Turtle." His sign states: "No Cash No Problem, Now Accept All Major Credit Cards."

"It's a joke," said Turtle.

He said holding up a sign about homelessness is just depressing. So, he took another route.

Turtle says he's been homeless for 12 years now.

He asked, "How am I going to accept credits cards, when I'm living in a tent buddy?"

WFMY News 2 interviewed him Friday afternoon at his usual spot on Wendover Avenue.

"I did think it was funny," said one driver. "It was kind of the highlight of the afternoon. I was a bit surprised. My second thought was 'how in the world he would be able to handle a credit card?'"

Turtle says he is surprised that so many drivers think his sign is real.

"I would be surprised if anybody would stop and hand someone their credit card," said Mark Sumerford at Greensboro Urban Ministry.

Sumerford told us, he knows just how serious the city's homeless situation is. He doesn't support panhandling of any kind.

"Times are difficult right now and not knowing, again, what the gentleman's situation is, I don't want to prejudge him, but I would advise people to be caution," said Sumerford. He added, that if you want to help people like Turtle, give money to organizations that help fight homelessness on a long-term basis.

But for Turtle, it's not all about the money.

"I do this to make people smile and it makes me smile. It's the funniest sign I've seen in my life."

Turtle doesn't think he is doing anything wrong. He says humor is the best medicine for any situation.

Greensboro Police say they were unable to determine if he was breaking the law, without further information.

Police sent this statement in an email:

"This response is from our police attorney: "It could be panhandling…or he could be pulling a practical joke....The sign is non-specific. The sign doesn't say that he is personally seeking cash, it just says, "No cash? No problem. Now accept all major credit cards." It leans towards an implied solicitation, but that's an "eye-of-the-beholder" interpretation. He may be soliciting for a church or charity, too. Most organizations that solicit for charitable causes are exempt from the requirement of a privilege license under our ordinances, and they are not regulated under the same laws as panhandlers. Panhandlers solicit for their own benefit, and they are licensed and regulated for public safety purposes."

Panhandling is regulated around the Triad. In Greensboro or Winston-Salem panhandlers are required to have a permit.

For more information visit the city's websites.


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