12 Arrested In California For Defying City Ban On Feeding Homeless

| January 17 , 2018 , 13:24 IST

A total of 12 people paid the price for attempting to feed homeless people at a neighbourhood park in California when the city arrested them on Sunday for defying the ban on feeding homeless people.

Officials claimed that the ordinance is aimed at protecting the public from the spread of hepatitis A, which affects many of the homeless. Activists condemned the ban on feeding the homeless, terming it as a draconian measure to criminalise homeless residents.

A volunteer organisation called 'Break the Ban' set up tables offering breakfast bars, oranges and bananas, hygiene supplies and socks at a local park, but within an hour police arrived threatening to arrest those defying the ban on feeding the ban. Volunteers shouted at the police, after which the police began issuing misdemeanour citations.

A group of volunteers were issued citations for feeding the homeless, violating a city ordinance.

Regarding the concerns over the spread of hepatitis A, which is transferred by means of faecal contamination, the activists said providing homeless people with better access to hygiene would help in reducing hepatitis A, rather than barring people from sharing food.

Lawyer to the organisers, Scott Dreher, who was attending the event, said to The Guardian that the ordinance was a restriction to his free speech rights.

“It prevents me from exercising my right to share food with those people in need, which is an expression of speech by action,” he said.

“There are other, non-first-amendment-restrictive, ways to accomplish the city’s stated goal of preventing the spread of hep A, namely, by cleaning up the parks and providing and encouraging use of public restrooms and hand-washing,” Dreher added.

The protests against the arrests spread to Twitter as well, when one of the accused shared his experience along with a picture of the notice he received.