So apparently, feeding the homeless is being made a crime in many cities. According to this piece in USA Today:
Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City and more than 50 other cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
In NY, they haven’t made it a crime to feed hungry people (yet), but they’ve made aid groups jump through some pretty big hoops–food cannot be brought directly from restaurants or synagogues or churches and simply handed out. No, NO! It has to be checked for fat and salt (I kid you not). Mike Bloomberg apparently thinks that all food–even food going to the poor that would otherwise end up in a landfill– should meet guidelines. This means that even organizations that have a great track record on food or cannot donate leftover food to third parties that might distribute it themselves.
A true story comes to mind:
Back in the 1990’s, it was briefly illegal to give poor people food at Grand Central Station in New York. Two acquaintances involved with the Catholic Worker (one of whom was a nun), decided to take their chances and head out with the sandwich truck anyway. It was a bitter cold night, and they were handing out their sandwiches when an overly ambitious rookie cop decided he’d make rank by busting them. Thus busted, they head toward the Metro North police HQ. They get to the Sergeant’s desk and a bunch of police are standing around. The sergeant looks up for a second, sees the two people in handcuffs, and turns to the rookie. Scorn dripping from his voice, he said “you arrested a NUN? Seriously?”(the Sister was in street clothes, btw. But it isn’t too hard to tell). So the rookie goes through the description of the bust and how he caught them right in the act (I’m guessing it was sort of a distaff version of Alice’s Restaurant). And (according to the two) the questioning went something like this:
Sergeant: So were you two handing out food?
Law-breaking Nun: Yes. Peter and I were handing out food. We do this every few days.
Rookie (filled with rage and venom): And Who TOLD YOU it was okay to hand out Food??!!!
Law-breaking Nun and Peter (in unison): Jesus.
(at this point, the assembled observers cracked up, and the Sergeant had the cuffs removed and told them to leave).
I keep hearing this is a Christian country. What truth is more central to Jesus’ message than feeding those who are hungry? And this can’t be Sharia law, either. Muslims have a MONTH LONG HOLIDAY called Ramadan where the faithful (who are fasting) are ordered to give a percentage of their income to the poor. Is this Ayn Rand‘s law? Who put her in charge?
So if you’re in one of the cities cited, start the revolution today. Hand a poor person a sandwich. And if you’re near a Food Not Bombs group, help them out in their time of need.
Nope–beating up on the homeless and hungry (by denying them food when in need) seems to be counter that whole Jesus Christ part of this supposedly Christian country. And so I leave you with this note from one who is no longer with us, an activist for the poor and hungry who once dumpster-dove so that his soup kitchen in Baltimore would have enough food to hand out to the poor.
Philip Berrigan: “God gave us the homeless so we could see ourselves as we are, and He gave us the Prophets so we could see ourselves as we might truly be. And that is why we hide the homeless and kill the prophets”.