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Been Approached by Panhandlers on the High Line?

June 20, 2016

“While authentic monks traditionally carry a ‘beggar’s bowl’ to receive gifts of food and money, they would not aggressively ask for cash, said the Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, president of the Buddhist Council of New York, who said the fakers are disrespecting the faith.” – “Fake Buddhist monks are the new squeegee men of New York,” New York Post, June 14, 2015

You may have seen the recent news about aggressive panhandling by people dressed as monks on the High Line, or you may have encountered numerous panhandlers in the park yourself. We want you to know that we are as frustrated as you are—and we want you to know what we’re doing about it.

Friends of the High Line is aware that there are aggressive panhandlers in the park, many of whom are dressed as monks, and we take this issue very seriously. While panhandling itself is legal in New York City—and therefore legal along the High Line—it crosses the line when our trusting park visitors are touched or their paths are blocked.

Because panhandling is legal in New York City, we cannot force the people dressed as monks off the park. But we can inform our visitors and hope that increased awareness will decrease the panhandlers’ presence. In past years, we created paper signage for our elevators and bathrooms to discourage giving money to panhandlers dressed as monks. This was effective, but not effective enough. This season, we are increasing the size and prevalence of our panhandling-focused signage all over the High Line, and we’re also encouraging you—our visitors—to report any aggressive incidents.

If you witness or experience aggressive panhandling, we urge you to speak with a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer in the park, or reach out to us at with detailed information about what happened.

Any reports we receive will be catalogued by us and, when appropriate, sent to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. We’re also working behind the scenes to see what long-term legal options we may have.

With your help, we can continue to make the High Line an inviting, special place to visit for everyone. Please, help keep our park pleasant. Don’t give money to panhandlers, and report aggressive panhandling.