Panhandler paparazzi group to hold weekend rally

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HOLLAND, Mich -- A new anti-panhandler group along the lakeshore is planning to hold a rally this weekend.

Earlier this week, a Facebook page was created in which people show their encounters with panhandlers, who they say are lying about being in need.  Videos and photos posted to the page West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandlers show the confrontations.

The group posted the following on its Facebook page Thursday morning:

ATTENTION: West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandler's invite you to join us this Saturday 8/2/14 from 11am - 2pm for a rally to bring awareness to the Holland area to Stop giving change at the corners and bring real change to Holland by giving at a shelter.. Bring your signs and join us on James and 31 (meet by big lots) to spread this awareness. We will have news coverage of this event. The bigger the better. If you can't stay the entire time please stop by and join us and show your support. We hope you will be there. Let's be the change that Holland needs! spread the word!! "BRING A CANNED GOOD TO DONATE"

In some of the videos posted by West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandlers, one woman is seen following a man on a South Haven sidewalk. "You go city from city and try to scam from people," she tells him.

The panhandler is heard telling her to leave him alone, but she responds by saying, "I will, as soon as you leave our town."

With more than 700 people joining the Facebook group, within hours of its creation, FOX 17 reached out to the administrator, Mike Ochoa, to see why citizens are taking matters into their own hands.

"The whole purpose of it is to make [our community aware of] fraudulent panhandlers," Ochoa said.

As of Wednesday morning, July 30, there were more than 2,400 members.

Ochoa said two of the men seen in the Facebook videos are related. They've been seen in Holland, South Haven and Grand Haven, and he added that while one of them is photographed holding a sign that reads, "Homeless," they aren't.

In another video, Ochoa is seen getting out of his car in Grand Haven and running up to a panhandler, who is also inside a truck. "So, how's it feel to be hardly homeless?" Ochoa asks. "With a nice truck...nice truck and everything...all the stuff in the back and everything, how's it feel to be hardly homeless?"

The man is seen flipping Ochoa off before the video ends.

What could be called paparazzi for panhandlers first began earlier in July when a man took a picture of himself next to a panhandler. He was holding a sign claiming the man wasn't in need.

While the panhandlers aren't breaking any laws, Ochoa and other vocal members of the community said they want them to leave their neighborhoods.

FOX 17 tried finding the men in the videos to get their take on being followed but didn't have any luck.

We also reached out to the South Haven Police Department where some of the videos were shot but didn't hear back by Tuesday evening.


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  • Max

    my question is, what gives this man the right to decide who can be in Holland, Grand Haven or anywhere for that matter? Does he really know the background of these people he is judging? Since when is a truck considered a home? If what these people are doing is not illegal then isn’t bothering them a form of harassment? I have seen these videos and honestly I feel this guy is acting like a jerk. He even has kids in the car, what is that teaching them? He gets out of his car while in traffic. This is the guy I would want to run out of town, he is disruptive. He endangers his children by exiting a vehicle in the middle of traffic for reasons that are unjust, with no concideration for motorists around him. Not to mention congesting traffic because of his abandond vehicle. If you don’t want to give to a panhandler, then look away, move on….whatever. I think people should look in a mirror before judging others situations. Really??? What gives this guy the right to chose who can or can not be in any location?

  • EveryDay

    So what if he’s “judging” ?
    Big deal…I judge all the time, and I profile too.

    Judging is what people do to separate themselves from low-lifes and criminals.

    • NYC Madison Ave

      Max, I do not agree with these panhandlers issues- I have seen some of these people able to scam the fur off a stray dog! With that said, I do with you on the “Wow” comment directed @ “Everyday”—
      Judging people with the superiority complex “Everyday” there has-
      Most people these days will not put up with that-
      I dare say “Everyday” may judge people , But in a cowardly passive aggressive manner..Such as trolling the comment boards!
      If he/she really does exhibit this behaviour openly in public,
      I would not doubt we will hear about him/her in the news, Probably the obituary section…Or just hear that they have been in a confrontation and had their block knocked off- Most people with Blurting issues usually receive the latter!

    • EveryDay

      Keep thinking you won’t be judged if you don’t “judge” others.
      Thats whats at the bottom of this “don’t judge” BS …fear of being judged.
      What tells you to run away from a bad person? what is that little voice that says “watch out” ?
      Thats called “judgment”.

      • Max

        hmmmmm…..I don’t agree. I am not afraid of being judged by anyone. I am the one who has to live with my own actions and it really doesn’t matter to me whether others like or dislike my actions. As far as I am concerned,as long as it doesn’t hurt others, people should be able to do whatever they want to do. If I see someone doing something that doesn’t agree with my values……i move on. Live and let live. Just because someone is homeless does not mean they are going to hurt you. Live your life, let them live their’s. Noone knows what anyone is going through, at any given time. It is the ignorance of people like you that scare me. What happens next? Vigilante justice? Should there be gangs of “nice people” exterminating these horrible homeless people? Everyone that is “judging” these people need to worry about what they are doing in their own lives. I am not saying turn a blind eye to criminals, I am saying that there are a whole lot of people in this world…….we all don’t fit into one mold. Some are rich, some are poor……that is life. We all have the choice to help others, ignore others or hurt others.I know what grooup I am in.

  • Job offerer

    They have been offered jobs and turn them down, Jesse told me that he makes more money doing this than he could ever make working a job for a check! That is my issue here! I don’t doubt that they are homeless, but it is by choice! They are choosing this lifestyle over working hard to earn a living! When I see him on a corner holding a “we buy gold” sign, I will then stop and tell him how proud I am of him for making the right choices on how to pay his bills!

  • Jose n. castro

    Ah, yes. “Paparazzi” is right. Holland “Christianity” at it’s finest. That’s just what I need…a rally to “help” ME decide who to be compassionate towards. Telling who I can and cannot give MY money to.