Panhandler: Police Targeted Me After Ticket Controversy

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CLEVELAND, Ohio --The panhandler at the center of a ticket controversy appeared before a judge Thursday morning.

Robert Dissell made an initial appearance in Cleveland Municipal Court for charges related to aggressive solicitation. In recent weeks, Dissell has been cited for panhandling near the I-90 ramp and West 117th Street.

The judge ordered Dissell to stay away from that area, and Dissell responded by saying, "Yeah, but the officer won't have anything to do." Several hours later, Dissell was back in his wheelchair at the same location with a sign that read, "Please ... God Bless You. Jesus Loves All."

Last month, the City of Cleveland issued a citation against a "Good Samaritan" for littering. The man told the judge he was trying to give money to Dissell when it dropped onto the ground. The city later dropped the charge.

Dissell says after that case gained national attention Cleveland Police started harassing him. Dissell says the money he receives is derived from donations, not solicitations.

"This sign doesn't ask for anything. I thought when you solicit you had to ask somebody for something," said Dissell.

Dissell lives in a nearby apartment and collects disability from the government. Although the money he receives pays for his rent, he says the added income is needed to supplement his lifestyle.

Dissell is scheduled to be back in court July 12.

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