Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not guilty!

In the first test of Orlando's controversial ban on sharing food in public parks, a jury found Eric Montanez not guilty.

We spent two days in court, much of it trying to explain to the jury how vague and ambiguous the ordinance is -- especially when the city keeps moving the goalposts by changing its interpretation of the law.

We also watched videos taken by undercover cops, including one who went undercover as a homeless man.

After the verdict, Orange County Judge Steve Jewett praised Eric for the "important" work he does feeding the homeless at Lake Eola Park, but cautioned: "you do have to obey the law."

Eric faced a possible $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

Read the Orlando Sentinel article here. The WFTV report has a set of links to related stories, going back to the time the ordinance was passed in July 2006.

The Orlando Weekly raised some good points:
"Food for thought, No. 1: The city actually spent your tax dollars taking this case to trial. Food for thought, No. 2: The city actually spent your tax dollars to have cops count how many homeless people Montanez was feeding."


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