Filed Under: U.S.

Woman arrested for trying to feed homeless sues over local ordinance

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A Bullhead City, Arizona woman who was arrested back in March for violating a local ordinance by trying to feed homeless people at a park has filed a lawsuit against the city. Norma Thornton was the first person arrested under the ordinance, which regulates food-sharing events in public parks. The ordinance took effect last May.

According to Thornton’s attorney Suranjan San, the ordinance “makes it a crime punishable by four months imprisonment to share food in public parks for charitable purposes” such as trying to feed the homeless. Criminal charges against Thornton were eventually dropped.

“Still, I thought it was a kind of joke, someone playing a prank – until I was put in the back of the police car,” Thornton told Phoenix TV station KPHO. “I have always believed that when you have plenty, you should share.”

Tuesday’s lawsuit sought an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance. San said the lawsuit is part of a nationwide effort to let people feed those in need.

“This case is about kindness. Bullhead City has criminalized kindness,” San told KPHO. “At a city council meeting, the city attorney made it crystal clear. You may host a pizza party in the park for 50 people or a hundred people. Invite friends, invite strangers. You may do it all day every day, so long as your motivation is something other than to help people in need.”

Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said the ordinance applies only to public parks. He said churches, clubs and private properties are free to serve food to the homeless without a permit. According to the Mohave Valley Daily News, Thornton said she has continued to feed the homeless from private property not far from the park in order to follow the ordinance. She told the newspaper she has steered clear of the park because “I was told that if I was caught again, I would definitely go to jail and I would definitely spend the night there.”

“You’re under arrest. yes. I am? yes for violating the city ordinance.”
FEEDING THE HOMELESS IS APPARENTLY CRIMINAL IN SOME PLACES.
A 78 YEAR OLD WOMAN KNOWS THIS ALL TOO WELL.
AFTER SHE WAS ARRESTED SEVEN MONTHS AGO FOR GIVING FOOD TO TRANSIENTS IN HER COMMUNITY.
NOW…THE GRANDMOTHER IS LAWYERED UP.
AND IS SUING THE CITY…FOR IT’S ORDIDANCE THAT BANS PEOPLE FROM FEEDING THE HOMELESS IN CITY PARKS.
“To be told you cannot feed the hungry despite what the circumstances are is sad but it makes me really really angry to put it bluntly.”
THE CITY MAYOR SAYS YOU’RE ALLOWED TO FEED THE HOMELESS AT CHURCHES OR SHELTERS OR ANY PRIVATE PROPERTY. THE ORDIDANCE IS SPECIFIC TO CITY PARKS…AS A DETERENCE FROM HOMELESS SETTING UP SHOP.

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A Bullhead City, Arizona woman who was arrested back in March for violating a local ordinance by trying to feed homeless people at a park has filed a lawsuit against the city. Norma Thornton was the first person arrested under the ordinance, which regulates food-sharing events in public parks. The ordinance took effect last May.

According to Thornton’s attorney Suranjan San, the ordinance “makes it a crime punishable by four months imprisonment to share food in public parks for charitable purposes” such as trying to feed the homeless. Criminal charges against Thornton were eventually dropped.

“Still, I thought it was a kind of joke, someone playing a prank – until I was put in the back of the police car,” Thornton told Phoenix TV station KPHO. “I have always believed that when you have plenty, you should share.”

Tuesday’s lawsuit sought an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance. San said the lawsuit is part of a nationwide effort to let people feed those in need.

“This case is about kindness. Bullhead City has criminalized kindness,” San told KPHO. “At a city council meeting, the city attorney made it crystal clear. You may host a pizza party in the park for 50 people or a hundred people. Invite friends, invite strangers. You may do it all day every day, so long as your motivation is something other than to help people in need.”

Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said the ordinance applies only to public parks. He said churches, clubs and private properties are free to serve food to the homeless without a permit. According to the Mohave Valley Daily News, Thornton said she has continued to feed the homeless from private property not far from the park in order to follow the ordinance. She told the newspaper she has steered clear of the park because “I was told that if I was caught again, I would definitely go to jail and I would definitely spend the night there.”

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