A Tampa, Fla. news channel is being accused of producing an "anti-homeless" segment after a panhandler allegedly turned down a $15-an-hour job doing yardwork from a fed-up "taxpayer." Despite panhandling not being illegal in the area, the homeless man was captured on camera against his wishes and, according to some social media users, publicly shamed.
On July 15, WFLA reported that Ryan Bray, whom they refer to as a business owner in Bradenton, allegedly offered a homeless man $15 to perform yard work. According to Bray's account, the man turned the job down, became irritated and kicked Bray's vehicle's tire.
“They want money, they don’t want jobs, they don’t want to work,” he told the station. “They don’t want food. You can give them food. They don’t take it.”
Bray returned to the intersection where the homeless man, identified as Alabama by another station, WFTS, was panhandling. Bray held up a sign that read, "I offered him $15 an hour to do yard work for me and he refused. If we as a community stop paying them, they will leave our neighborhood." He stood by Alabama for three hours.
“This is our town,” Bray said. “We pay taxes here.”
During the video, WFLA's cameras filmed Alabama as he vehemently demanded that they stop, adding that panhandling "is not against the law." In 2018, a revised law in Manatee County, which includes Bradenton, states panhandlers are protected by the right to free speech and can ask passersby for money.
Watch this gross, anti-homeless segment from @wflamelanie, intro'd by @JenLeighWFLA. It crosses the line from fear-mongering to incitement, glorifying rightwing vigilante harassment of the indigent.— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) July 21, 2019
(note: I blurred out the homeless man's face, not @WFLA) pic.twitter.com/QsdHUr1Zko
On Sunday, Adam Johnson shared footage of the “8 on Your Side” segment on Twitter, calling it "gross, anti-homeless," and writing that it "crosses the line from fear-mongering to incitement, glorifying right-wing vigilante harassment of the indigent."
Many on social media echoed his concerns.
The homeless man makes it clear he does not want to be on TV. Do ordinary people have any rights when it comes to that? Or at least is there any kind of "code" in media to respect the wishes of regular people who don't consent to being put on TV?— 🐟 Slow as a Fish 🐟 (@SlowasaFish) July 21, 2019
We need money to live. If he’s making more than $15 an hour panhandling more power to him. Working in itself is not a virtue.— TedNotTedward (@TedNotTedward) July 21, 2019
War on poor & powerless is full on. The MSM will never examine the system that creates utter desperation that forces begging. Removal of Compassion as a cultural value is nearly complete— ✊All You Fascists: #Socialism is the Answer ✊ (@imliberal) July 21, 2019
This makes me sick.— Winters (@TimonicWulfgar) July 21, 2019
The media paint it as if it was just about getting a job & getting off the streets, it’s not. Many of these ppl need to be reintegrated into society whether it’s with a mentor, a life coach, or through counseling, before they can assume a job or a responsibility. Unfair portrayal— Rudy (@vespasian85) July 22, 2019
Local TV station harrasses homeless man, runs whole hog with a random "I pay taxes" bro's story with no apparent verification in an incident with almost zero newsworthiness. https://t.co/imnETnxCIo— Tiffini Theisen (@tiffinit) July 22, 2019
Johnson went on to credit another Twitter user in pointing out that the segment used “every loaded, right-wing signifier in the book.”
as @myonlyzero notes, the segment is loaded with every loaded, rightwing signifier in the book— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) July 21, 2019
"small business owner"
"husband and father"
"took actions in his own hands"
"We pay taxes"
WFTS also reports a conflicting second side of the story. According to Alabama, Bray never offered him a job.
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