A group of volunteers in California are facing misdemeanor charges after feeding the homeless in a park, violating a recent city ordinance that prohibits “food sharing” in public spaces.
The volunteers showed up to Wells Park in El Cajon, CA, to protest the ordinance and to hand out food, clothes, shoes and toiletries to the homeless, BBC reports.
The police came and wrote up citations for each of the people handing out food, including 14-year-old Ever Parmley who was handing out food before a man told her to “step aside please,” she told NBC 7.
Each of those handed citations were charged with a misdemeanor for violating the El Cajon municipal code prohibiting sharing food in public spaces, including city parks.
Charles Marks tells 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.”
El Cajon passed the prohibitive ordinance in October, following a severe Hepatitis A outbreak that killed at least 20.
Councilmember Ben Kalasho told NBC 7, “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.”
“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 continued.
Hepatitis A can be spread through close personal contact or sharing food and water that has been contaminated with undetected amounts of stool from an infected person.