Federal Court: First Amendment Protects Sharing Food With Homeless People

 |  Nick Sibilla 08/28/2018 10:41 AM MDT
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In a colorful decision that managed to invoke the Boston Tea Party, Lady Macbeth and Jesus of Nazareth, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that feeding the homeless is “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.” The decision revives a challenge brought by a local chapter of Food Not Bombs, which sued Fort Lauderdale, Florida for requiring a permit to share food in public parks.

Thanks to the city's ordinance, Fort Lauderdale has become infamous for cracking down on compassion. In 2014, police arrested a 90-year-old man and two ministers who were simply trying to share food with the homeless.

“We are very pleased with this ruling, and we look forward to continuing our community organizing in Fort Lauderdale,” Nathan Pim, a member of Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs and a plaintiff in the case, said in a statement. “We hope we are one step closer to something we've fought for over many years—simply being able to help people without being threatened with arrest by people who should be working with us.”

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