Alabama police ordered a Birmingham pastor to stop handing out bottled water and hotdogs to the homeless in a city park.
Pastor Rick Wood, of the Lord’s House of Prayer in Oneonta, was told last month that he was in violation of an ordinance that requires food trucks to obtain a permit and sell food.
Wood told the officers he was going to hand out the food, not sell it.
“This makes me so mad,” Wood told a local news station in Alabama. “These people are hungry, they’re starving. They need help from people. They can’t afford to buy something from a food truck.”
Officers say the ordinance is meant to protect the homeless from tainted food, but other advocacy groups say the law is meant to drive out the homeless.
“These laws are part and parcel of general efforts to move (the homeless) out of cities,” said Jeremy Rosen, policy director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.
In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty filed a lawsuit against the City of Dallas and won. The case was about a city ordinance that restricted areas where groups could hand out food.
In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the City of Las Vegas, challenging an ordinance that made it illegal to feed homeless people in city parks. The suit was settled in 2010 when the city passed rules regarding the treatment of homeless people.
Publication date: April 23, 2014