A group of people who were handing out food to the homeless community in the California town of El Cajon were arrested for their charitable actions.
They were handing out food, clothes and toiletries on Sunday before police arrived and issued citations. The group was actively protesting against an emergency ordinance in the city of El Cajon which was introduced in response to California’s hepatitis A outbreak. Some of those in attendance were holding signs that read, “feeding the hungry is not a crime” and “compassion not starvation.”
Hepatitis A can be spread through the touching of contaminated foods or objects.
California’s homeless community has been identified as the most susceptible to contracting the illness due to their lack of access to basic hygiene and sanitation facilities. The ordinance was passed in October last year, and authorities claim it is an essential element in battling the disease. But opponents disagree, arguing that it unfairly penalizes the city’s homeless people.
Today I got arrested for the first time for feeding the homeless in Wells Park in El Cajon. The City of El Cajon has…
“This park is part of city property so you aren’t allowed to food share,” an officer said in a video that captured the incident. “…If you guys continue to food share, then you guys are subject to arrest, all right?”
The 12 people have now announced their intention to take legal action against the city of El Cajon. “If I’m going to be arrested for something, let it be for feeding the homeless,” said Matthew Schneck, who was cited Sunday, as reported by NBC San Diego. “I’m not going to apologize for doing the right thing.”
El Cajon police issued citations to each person handing out food, including a child – 14-year-old Ever Parmley, daughter of main organizer Shane Parmley. “I was passing out food and this guy was like can you step aside please,” Ever told NBC 7.
Another member of the group, Charles Marks, told NBC 7, “I’ve been given a court date under the impression this represents being arrested on a misdemeanor, but it’s just a citation.”
Councilmember Ben Kalasho previously explained the reasoning behind the strange new rule.
“What we’re saying is feeding them at city parks is a bad idea given the situation that we’re in with the hepatitis A outbreak, and the fact that it makes the place completely messy afterward,” he said.
Kalasho also clarified that you can still give them a place to stay and feed them in the privacy of your own home, but just not in the public parks.
“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,” he explained.
However, an attorney representing the group does not believe that the motivation behind the ordinance is to prevent sickness, but rather to clear the streets of homeless people.
“It was really a disguise,” said attorney Scott Dreher. “People were complaining homeless people will come to the park if you give them free stuff.”
“It was absolutely necessary to beak this law until they were willing to enforce it, and, now that they have, we will continue this fight in court,” said organizer Shane Parmely, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Parmely continued: “They arrested us by issuing citations for two things. One if for violating the ordinance. The second is they made it a misdemeanor to break the ordinance. Now we have lawyers who are all ready to go. To go to court and possibly sue the city of El Cajon. There is a huge waste of El Cajon taxpayers dollars today.”
El Cajon Police Department rolling up on Food Not Bombs food sharing event at Wells Park. I love how Dash invites them to join us for a meal. (Video 1 of 6)Bo Diego, Dashiel MacTavish, Mel Red, Holly Pacha, James Elia, Mark Lane, Tom Lemmon, David Arambula, Brenda Arnold, Leslie Kiem Gollub, Käthe Reisgies, Dave Myers for Sheriff, Ever Rose, Pastor Rolland Slade
Posted by Shane Parmely on Friday, December 22, 2017
“Our goal it to get the ban overturned and sit down and figure out how to humanely deal with something that’s not going away,” said campaigner Mark Lane, who is part of the group ‘Break The Ban.’
Yesterday, the police said we would be arrested if we kept feeding the homeless, we kept feeding the homeless, and I watched a homeless man cry.