Drivers Complain of Panhandlers' Signs That Suggest Explicit Language

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Whitley's sign Whitley's sign

Some drivers around Charlottesville are getting an eyeful lately, and police say there's not much they can do about it. A few panhandlers have signs that allude to expletives.

At least two men have been spotted in the Barracks Road area holding signs with curse words, minus a letter or two.

"I'm 58 years old, man. How many years you think I got left in me?” Christopher Whitley said.

Whitley has been begging on the streets of Albemarle County for six years now.

"I appreciate kind hearts. I get hate. I get a lot of hate, but I can appreciate the love that people will give you," Whitley said.

Whitley says he and his friends have dealt with drivers yelling and throwing things at them while panhandling.  So he decided a sign that indicates an obscenity would make drivers pay attention.

“It happens. You gotta deal with it. You gotta roll with it," Whitley said.

“I see it as becoming a problem in the area and I'm afraid more of them are getting brazen holding up explicit signs,” a man who wanted to be referred to as "Paul" said.

People in the county have reported the signs to police because of the offensive language.

"There's absolutely no point to it. None. I mean that is, we don't need that on our streets. We don't need our children seeing that and have to explain to them why people are holding up signs like that,” Paul said.

“I’m sympathetic toward a good many of these people that really are down on their luck and have no means,” Paul said.

Whitley says he doesn't want to offend anyone, he just wants some respect.

"Come on man, I didn't sleep last night, people coming and going and coming and going," Whitley said.

Drivers passing through Barracks Road say giving charitable money isn't an issue, but they want it to go to someone who deserves it.

"The people here are charitable. They give them money and I think that they should take a good look at who they're giving their money to," Paul said.

Charlottesville police say they have received complaints about these signs but cannot do anything about them because it falls under the panhandlers’ First Amendment rights.