Under International Spotlight, El Cajon Ends Its Ban on Feeding Homeless in Parks

by on January 29, 2018 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, Homelessness

Screen grab from San Diego U-T vid.

Being portrayed negatively in the international spotlight is never good, as the city of El Cajon recently found out. The east county city found international attention after it banned feeding the homeless in parks, and after about a dozen homeless advocates were arrested, cited and released for trying to feed homeless people in a local El Cajon park.

The city lifted the temporary order on Tuesday, January 23rd. They had enacted the ban – they claimed – as a safety measure after the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared the region’s growing hepatitis A outbreak a public health emergency. The same day, last Tuesday, the County ended the health emergency over Hep A.

As the San Diego U-T reported:

Critics called El Cajon’s ban a punitive measure meant to dehumanize and criminalize the homeless and in protest staged several food-sharing events at one of the city’s most popular parks, Wells Park near the downtown hub. International media, including the BBC, picked up on the ban after volunteers distributing food earlier this month were arrested. It also attracted plenty of national attention, much of it unflattering, to the East County city of nearly 100,000.

This reporter personally know activist Mark Lane, who organized the group called “Break the Ban”. Lane was one of those arrested as he and dozens of people over the months have shared food in Wells Park with the homeless in spite of the ban. Lane said:

“The groups that had been sharing food regularly with the homeless will be able to go back and do that again and that’s a great thing.”

Lane believes “the ban was unconstitutional and one of four in a series of criminalizing ordinances in El Cajon,” claiming El Cajon “very clearly has a plan to move the homeless out of their city in order to not have to give services to them.”

Another activist, Shane Parmely, said the ban was just the latest in-

“a series of ordinances that criminalize homeless residents of El Cajon. It’s still illegal for a homeless person to lay down and try to sleep.”

She slammed the mayor and the City Council; their action was “a completely discriminatory, unconstitutional and unscientifically justifiable ban on sharing food with homeless people.”

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said the ban created good discussion about the homeless.

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