Monday, October 16, 2006

Lawsuit filed against
Orlando's homeless feeding ban

A lawsuit challenging Orlando's ordinance restricting food-sharing with the homeless and hungry in downtown parks has been filed in federal court.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of First Vagabonds Church of God, its homeless pastor and Orlando Food Not Bombs, claims the law violates freedom of speech and assembly, free exercise of religion, due process and equal protection.

Orlando's ordinance prevents serving large groups in parks and other public property within 2 miles of City Hall without a permit. City officials contend that the people who gather for weekly meals create safety and sanitary problems.

The group and others have continued to provide meals downtown in defiance of the law. See previous posts here, here, here, here and here.

City Commissioner Patty Sheehan,* who pushed for the ordinance, said she would have preferred to solve the dispute through continued dialogue. "If there is a silver lining, maybe it's that this will get us to coordinate efforts. We need to coordinate, and we need a drop-in center," she said.

George Crossley, who heads the Central Florida ACLU, said they had no choice to get the city's attention. "We want to find a long-term solution to this problem," he said.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here.

(This is why I haven't posted for a couple of days.)

* Patty Sheehan has "We Are Family" as the ringer on her cell phone, reports A Spider's Web in Thornton Park. "I guess the homeless aren't family," Spider says.


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