They Were Feeding the Homeless, and the Police Came

El Cajon, California, prohibited that very act in October
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2018 8:00 AM CST
They Fed the Homeless in a Park, Were Cited for It
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Giving life to the phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" is this story out of El Cajon, California: At least nine people were cited with a misdemeanor there Sunday after giving food to homeless people in the city's Wells Park. Municipal code 1.28.010 prohibits "food sharing" in public spaces like parks due to "public health, safety, and welfare concerns." NBC San Diego explains the ordinance was passed in October amid a hepatitis A outbreak, though a councilmember told the station in November that such activities also make "the place completely messy afterward." His advice for do-gooders: "You can go out there, pick them up, take them back to your house and feed them and board them and room them and have them take a shower if you're really wanting to help."

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports those handing out food had come to the park as part of a "Break the Ban" group that formed in the wake of the new ordinance. The paper notes that the youngest person cited was 14. "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," says one of the group's organizers. KUSI quotes an attendee as saying the act of civil disobedience was done in Martin Luther King Jr.'s name. (This sort of thing has happened before.)

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