We win! Homeless feeding ordinance struck downFor the first time, a judge has ruled that sharing food with hungry and homeless people in a public park is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.
That’s the most important part of the federal court ruling that Orlando’s “large-group feeding” ordinance is unconstitutional. The ripple effects of the ruling could reach cities across the country where ordinances restricting efforts to feed hungry and homeless people are being considered.
The court ruled that the Orlando ordinance violates the rights of Orlando Food Not Bombs and the First Vagabonds Church of God to free speech and free exercise of religion.
To establish that their conduct is expressive and protected by the First Amendment, the members of Food Not Bombs had to prove that they are conveying a message that is likely to be understood by the public. The city tried to argue that their message – that society can and should provide food for all of its members, regardless of wealth – wasn’t likely to be understood. But Mayor Buddy Dyer testified that he believes that Food Not Bombs provides food to the homeless only to convey its political message – not necessarily to help the homeless.
Read the court’s decision here.