Helping the homeless is now a crime in part of El Cajon, Calif. Between 12 and 15 people were arrested Sunday and cited for giving food to the poor at a city park in the San Diego suburb.
“This park is part of city property so you aren’t allowed to food share,” a police officer in a Facebook video told activists. “… If you guys continue to food share, then you guys are subject to arrest, alright?”
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The activists were handing food and toiletries to homeless people in Wells Park. Officers cited and arrested all the activists, but did not handcuff anybody or take them to jail, The San Diego Union Tribune reported. The activists were protesting an ordinance banning the distribution of food on public property.
Threat to Public Health?
The El Cajon city council passed the ordinance in October because city officials believe distributing food to the poor spreads diseases like Hepatitis A, The Union Tribune reported.
The ordinance made feeding the homeless a misdemeanor. Repeat offenders might be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, which can lead to 364 days in jail.
“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,” protest organizer Shane Parmely told The Union Tribune. Parmely said he and others would keep feeding the homeless and getting arrested until the ban is overturned.
“Our goal is to get the ban overturned and sit down and figure out how to humanely deal with something that’s not going away,” protestor Mark Lane said.
Homelessness is a serious problem in San Diego County, where rents are skyrocketing.
The number of people living on the streets in downtown San Diego increased by 27 percent in 2017, The Union Tribune reported.
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