MELBOURNE, Fla. - Police say a man was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggressively panhandling along US-1 in Melbourne.
After receiving several complaints, a patrolman said he observed a man later identified as Edward Band, 55, standing in the roadway at Strawbridge and US-1 approaching cars, knocking on their windows and then reaching in the vehicles.
Police said Band not backing out of the vehicle windows prevented the flow of traffic from moving normally.
On July 8, the city of Melbourne made it unlawful to aggressively panhandle in any location in the city and prohibited it completely in the Downtown Exclusionary Zone, which is where police said Band was found begging.
Band is charged with obstruction of public streets, highways and roads, aggressive panhandling and panhandling in Downtown Exclusionary Zone. He faces a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.
Downtown businesses say the atmosphere has significantly improved since the ordinance.
"It's finally somewhat safe to walk around downtown now," said Carlo Mattiello, owner of the Dove Restaurant, who says he has dealt with aggressive panhandlers for the last three years. "They would sit on the bench and fall asleep or wait for people that were either coming in or leaving and they would try to grab them as soon as they were walking by."
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