When you see people who are starving, it seems like a natural impulse to want to feed them. Unfortunately, politicians are trying to circumvent this very human response by outlawing private individuals and groups from giving free food to the homeless.
Forget belittling the rich, this is real class warfare. By forbidding people from sharing meals with the poor, politicians are exacerbating the crisis rather than improving it. As backwards as it is to pretend that hunger disappears when groups stop feeding the homeless, a disappointing number of cities have adopted this policy:
Tragically, rather than seeing that list shrink, recent weeks have shown that the list is actually expanding. Here are three recent bans on feeding the homeless:
1. Crazy Faith Ministries
For two years, Crazy Faith Ministries gathered in a public parking lot to feed Olympia, Washington’s homeless population. When local businesses complained, city politicians attempted to shut down the Christian group’s charitable act, but Crazy Faith Ministries refused to comply since there were no legal grounds.
Subsequently, the City Council found a legal reason, namely by passing a new law requiring groups to obtain expensive permits to gather in a public parking lot. Though the politicians claim they weren’t targeting Crazy Faith Ministries specifically, they acknowledge stopping the food service will improve “traffic” in the area. Think of all the malls and businesses that generate traffic jams that aren’t considered “problems”!
While some politicians have said they will help the group find a better location to serve the homeless, Crazy Faith representatives say that no one has followed through on that claim.
2. The Buttery Shelf
Many believe that it should be up to individuals to take care of the poor rather than the government, yet when a local business steps up to feed the hungry, the powers that be intervene to shut that down, too. Case in point: the Buttery Shelf Eatery in Lafayette, Indiana. Cherrie Buckley, the diner’s owner and all around good person, gave away free meals each Thursday to people in need… that is until fellow local business owners started suing Buckley, as reported by Care2′s Kristina Chew earlier this week.
They allege that Buckley’s generosity was scaring away patrons and costing them business. According to them, the line of needy people that lined up would drink alcohol, swear and litter, scaring others out of the neighborhood. However, even the police denied that these accusations were true, citing that at least one report of rampant drug use was definitely false considering an officer was already on the scene that could verify no such thing was occurring.
Despite the charges being bogus, Buckley lacks the resources to fight her peers’ lawsuits in court and has had to discontinue the free lunch service.
3. The Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition
Los Angeles is working overtime to maintain its title as the “meanest” city toward homeless people. Not only has it recently banned encampments in a large portion of the city, but it continues to fight the courts to be able to prevent people from sleeping in their cars. If those battles weren’t enough, a pair of city councilmen are currently proposing making feeding homeless people in public spaces illegal.
Though a number of groups that currently serve food to the city’s large needy population in parks and street corners would then be subject to fines and arrests just for trying to help out, the potential new ordinance was drafted to address an ongoing conflict between the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition and well-to-do homeowners. It turns out that rich people don’t want to have to see homeless people “loitering” anywhere near them and politicians like Mitch O’Farrell and Tom LaBonge are happy to prioritize the petty complaints of the affluent over the basic survival needs of the less fortunate.
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