The homeless live all around us. As good Samaritans, handing out a sandwich is something easy to do and greatly appreciated. One sandwich to a homeless person can make a real difference.
Feeding the homeless doesn’t take much thought, just a willingness to help, and the rewards are great. A feeling of kindness and the knowledge that a person did not go hungry.
Unfortunately, for 12 good Samaritans in El Cajon, California, what began as a good deed ended in police interference.
For the simple act of handing out food to the homeless, all 12 were handed citations.
The group had gathered in Wells Park, a popular location for the homeless of the city. They had intended to hand out food, clothes, shoes and toiletries to the needy.
“I was passing out food and this guy was like can you step aside please,” said 14-year old Ever Parmley who was a member of the group arrested.
Another member, Matthew Schneck commented, “If I’m going to be arrested for something, let it be for feeding the homeless.”
Each good Samaritan was charged with a misdemeanor, violating El Cajon municipal code 1.28.010, a law prohibiting food sharing in public places. Many people believe that the police have gone too far in issuing charges.
The ordinance was passed in order to stop the spread of a new Hepatitis A outbreak. The police noted that signs had been put up near Wells Park.
Lawyers representing the 12 are planning on taking legal action against the city. A day after the charges, the 12 stood together in solidarity insisting that they did nothing wrong.
The city was sticking to their guns in an effort to eradicate the spreading virus, but glancing around the park, it was clear to many that there were better ways to do it.
The park is a huge gathering place for the local homeless population.
Some ideas included cleaning up the park and installing hand washing stations. With a cleaner environment, food could safely be handed out to those in need.
For those 12 people, trying to do the right thing and help their fellow man, the penalties could be steep.
They will all have to appear in court and will most likely be asked to pay a fine and, under the law, could face jail time.
But, hopefully it won’t come to that. Let’s hope that the city takes this incident as an opportunity to listen and work together to find better solutions.
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