A Philadelphia judge has blocked the city law banning the feeding of homeless on city parkland saying that there was no evidence a city plan to feed the homeless outside City Hall was any better than the way it’s done by groups along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This decision has been met with praise from religious groups and other charitable organizations who felt the homeless were being shoved into dark corners and away from tourist attractions. It has also been met with grief from city officials including Mayor Michael Nutter who said he was disappointed in the ruling.
The law, banning the feeding of any large groups (four or more people) on city parkland (unless the city itself is doing it, or unless it is a group that has permission from the city to do so) went into effect on June 1, and was immediately challenged by the groups like Chosen300 who regularly feed homeless in that area. The city claims the law was passed to protect the dignity of the homeless, cleanliness of the parks, and eliminate food health concerns, but many opponents of the law feel it was to push the homeless in a corner, turn a blind eye to the problem, and keep them away from tourist attractions in the city.
#INN has covered both the law going into effect along with its glaring hypocrisies, reporting on a major feeding event on city parkland we entitled Hypocrisy on a Roll in Philly. This article has been picked up by Chosen300 ministries and sent to their lawyers who represented them in court in this monumental victory. We received a thank you from the group for bringing this example to their attention. It has also bounced around the web through emails including Shane Claiborne, forums such as Reddit, religious and humanitarian websites like shoutforjoy.net and through many social media websites.
We at #INN are honored to have broken the story, and are glad to know so many others share our outrage for this hypocritical and inhumane law. We are also glad that District Judge William Yohn saw through the arguments made by city officials to the heart of this law, which was to restrict the rights of the homeless. And last of all we are glad that sanity has been restored to the city of Philadelphia, at least for the time being.