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Cops Arrest Volunteers For Giving Food To Homeless People

The city of El Cajon, a municipality not far from San Diego, California, has made national headlines after several members of a support group for homeless individuals were arrested for giving food to a group of homeless people in a park.

According to Shareably, the act of giving food and miscellaneous items to homeless people was banned by El Cajon city ordinance in order to “protect the public from the spread of Hepatitis A.”

Prior to the ordinance coming into effect, the city of El Cajon was facing a public health emergency due to the rapid spread of Hepatitis A. When the city council learned that one of the main causes for the spread of the disease could be food consumption and movement of foodstuffs amongst the homeless, a motion for a ban was quickly proposed.

At the time the ban was enacted, public health representatives assured the public that it would only be active for a short period of time. However, when the weeks turned into several months, city officials began to receive complaints from the various organizations in El Cajon that helped look after the homeless.

Unsurprisingly, several particularly aggrieved activists formed a group called ‘Break the Ban’ in protest of the regulation against feeding El Cajon’s homeless population. The first act of the newly formed group was to meet at Wells Park and deliver much-needed food and toiletries to the leaders of the homeless community.

However, when police officers spotted the illegal event, several attendees and organizers were roughly arrested. Fortunately, the arrests were quickly abandoned, with each attendee receiving a misdemeanor citation and warning against further action.

However, the warning appears to have fallen on deaf ears for many. In fact, Shareably reports that ‘Break the Ban’ intends to partner with another food-sharing organization ‘Food Not Bombs’.

Shane Parmely, one of the members of ‘Break the Ban’, was adamant that banning the donation of food and medicine to the homeless was tyrannical and needed to be challenged. “It was absolutely necessary to break this law until they were willing to enforce it, and, now that they have, we will continue this fight in court.”

One group member, Matthew Schneck, even invoked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in support of ‘Break the Ban’, writing: “Today I got arrested for feeding the homeless in Wells Park in El Cajon.
The City of EL Cajon has made it illegal to share food with homeless people…One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws – Martin Luther King Jr.”

“Our goal is to get the ban overturned and sit down and figure out how to humanely deal with something that is not going away,” continued Parmely.

In a press conference with local media outlets, Mark Lane, an event organizer for ‘Break the Ban’, warned that stopping the spread of Hepatitis A would require a broader approach from the city council.

“Yes, we have a problem with Hepatitis A, but you don’t battle that by not feeding homeless people,” said Mr. Lane. “You battle that by giving them proper restroom facilities, proper hand washing facilities, and vaccinations, education.”

Unsurprisingly, the media attention on ‘Break the Ban’ has led to a surge in the group’s membership. Since the initial incident at Wells Park, there have been several other food distribution events in parks and on street corners across the city.

Source: Shareably
Photo: YouTube

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