Group allowed to feed homeless again without permit
A faith-based group that was threatened with arrest for feeding the homeless at a state park has settled its lawsuit after a permit requirement was lifted.
(no, this isn't about Orlando)
California State Parks agreed it would not enforce Regulation 4321, which is designed to ban unlawful assembly,* and members of Welcome INN (Interfaith Needs Network) can feed the homeless without threat of citation or arrest, as long as they comply with rules that apply to everyone such as hours of operation, orderly conduct and clean-up.
The agreement affects all California state parks.
The group has been offering hot meals, plus social services help and Bibles, to about 50 homeless or low-income people at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, California, for nearly two decades, in fulfillment of their religious obligation to take care of people. They served meals on two consecutive nights in February in the park’s picnic area without incident, but on the third night park rangers told the group it was engaged in “unlawful assembly.”
The ACLU of Southern California filed suit on their behalf in May 2008, alleging that the state law that regulates assembly in state parks is unconstitutionally broad.
If the gathering had been a party for a boy celebrating his 10th birthday, there would have been no problem with food being distributed, said ACLU attorney Hector Villagra. The only question is that the friends, the guests in this case, were homeless, and that could not justify the state's exclusion of this group.
Read the KNBC report here.
Thanks to Religion Clause for the link.
* Regulation 4321 provides: "No person shall conduct or attend an assembly or public demonstration except by permission of the Department upon a finding that such activity would not substantially interfere with park use."