Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lawsuit challenges ban on feeding homeless
in West Palm Beach parks

Two groups that share food with the hungry and homeless have sued West Palm Beach, claiming its ordinance that outlaws their activity is unconstitutional, vague and overbroad.

Saying the feeding ban institutes a "pay to pray" system in the city, Art and Compassion and Food Not Bombs claim their rights to feed the down-trodden in front of the library and at Meyer Amphitheater are just as important as charitable work done by those who can afford to build churches and other buildings.

"Those who can pay for a building or pay money for the mayor's special projects or charities are granted the permission to pray and practice their religion as they see fit, but those who lack the funds to own a building ... are told to go inside another's church in order to carry out their sacred duties outside the public view," says the lawsuit filed in federal court.

While Food Not Bombs is secular, Art and Compassion views feeding the poor as part of its religious obligation to honor God.

Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel report here.


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At 12:24 AM, Blogger TrumanDem said...

Ms. Dowd,

I've been told there are similar moves being made here to outlaw distribution of food to the poor/hungry/homeless in downtown Jacksonville. I'm looking forward to seeing how this lawsuit you posted about works out.



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