POSTED: 7:31 am CDT July 26, 2006
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Another
American city has made it a crime to feed the homeless in certain areas.
week, Las Vegas outlawed feeding homeless people at city parks.
Now, Orlando is following suit.
Orlando is trying to keep charitable groups from feeding the homeless in downtown parks.
said transients gathering for weekly meals create safety and sanitary problems for businesses.
City Council voted to prohibit serving meals to groups of 25 or more people in parks and other public property within two
miles of City Hall without a special permit.
group called Food Not Bombs, which has served weekly vegetarian meals for the homeless for more than a year, said it will
American Civil Liberties Union vows to sue, saying it's a superficial fix that ignores the city's homeless problem.
of the city's five commissioners voted against the ordinance, including Commissioners Robert Stuart, who runs the homeless
shelter Christian Service
Center, and Sam Ings, a retired police officer.
told The Orlando Sentinel that Orlando is taking a step to
"criminalize good-hearted people" who he says are trying to help. He went on to tell the paper that group feedings in the
parks had not become unwieldy to the city, as some had claimed.
said the ordinance says, "Orlando doesn't care," the Sentinel
said that although the commissioners are casting the ordinance as a public-safety issue, it is really an issue of the city
wanting to "cover up" the homeless problem.
putting a Band-Aid on a critical problem," he said.
commissioner who pushed for the ordinance, Patty Sheehan, said it was not an "easy day" for her at all. She said the new ordinance
against feeding homeless people has been "wrongly cast" as anti-homeless.
been an advocate [for the homeless]," she said. "Even though you'll call me an enemy, I'll still be your friend."
Sentinel reported that about a dozen downtown residents and business owners spoke in favor of the rule.
more than three times that amount of people spoke against it. There were 45 speakers from various groups, including a formal
declaration from the University of Central
Florida's student senate, who opposed outlawing feeding homeless people.
Buddy Dyer supported the ordinance.
Not Bombs said on its Web site that chapters in Venice, Calif.;
Las Vegas, Nev.; Orlando, and
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada have been told that their programs should stop or move out of sight.