New "no panhandling" sings are being posted on BART trains, which is causing backlash from riders. The transit agency says it will be taken down, but only to change one word.
Old train cars have signs that read "no aggressive panhandling" and riders say that one word makes all the difference.
"I think it’s really discriminatory towards people who are poor, who are unhoused," said Sam Lew, policy director from the Coalition of Homelessness.
Bevan Dufty, BART Board of Directors president, tweeted the signs are "a mistake" and will be removed.
The signs were initially meant to have word "aggressive" which panhandling is protected under free speech. But "aggressive panhandling" is not and violates BART’s code of conduct.
Bay Area riders understand wording matters, but they question whether a sign will change people’s actions.
"Don’t really see the signs as its going to have a big impact because people are going to do it regardless here in the city," BART rider Wonyi Kauhi said.
This year, officers have responded to 340 calls related to panhandling, but only two resulted in citations.
A BART spokesperson says the number of citations for panhandling is low because panhandling has to be clearly aggressive and witnesses have to be on the scene to give a statement, which most people don’t do.