Is the ban on food sharing unconstitutional? I think so

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As I sit here and read a letter to the City of El Cajon from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) San Diego & Imperial Counties about its perception of El Cajon’s ordinance banning sharing food the homeless in public places, it reinforces my beliefs that the council has once again stepped out of bounds in its role as leaders in our community. Elegantly written it is firm in its stand that this ordinance violates the freedom of expression in charitable giving.

As I sit here and read a letter to the City of El Cajon from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) San Diego & Imperial Counties about its perception of El Cajon’s ordinance banning sharing food the homeless in public places, it reinforces my beliefs that the council has once again stepped out of bounds in its role as leaders in our community. Elegantly written it is firm in its stand that this ordinance violates the freedom of expression in charitable giving. Loaded with documented cases to back up its claims, it is a letter that should be taken seriously, with careful thought about not only how the City of El Cajon wants to be portrayed as leaders, but it attacks the very heart of this dreadful ordinance.

Bottom line, as the letter states, you have the resources in other ordinances that would help curb many of your concerns with the hepatitis A breakout. It violates individual rights both for those people in the city and outside the city that have banned together to help the homeless population despite facing the consequences of this overly severe ordinance.

The City is getting ready for another round of litigations if it keeps this ordinance in place and continues to enforce it as they did with such thoughtfulness during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. That alone sets a precedence in the train of thought that has little regard to what the life of King taught us as a people, a community and a nation. As I watched on TV and read in most of the media sites both locally and nationally, I was more than frustrated at what I saw, it was more along the lines of pure disgust.

It is time for the City Council to lift the ban, a ban that should have never been created in the first place. If you are looking for attention and to get your point across, you did that very well. But is was a muted point and more of a grandstand act, rather than a public health concern.

Are you willing to pay the litigation fees that will come if the people that were arrested and cited, the ACLU and whomever else decide to join the cause? If my understanding of your agreement with the city attorney, this type of litigation falls under hourly pay and does not fit the confines of the city attorney’s annual salary. In either case, this is wasted money that could be used to find a better solution.

I do not negate the work that the city has done with local organizations and businesses and the other measures that you have taken to help the homeless population in getting food and supplies that make their life a little more bearable. It would be much better, and the right thing to do to keep moving along in those directions rather than this rash decision. It is time to lift the ban.

In all of the reporters that I know that were at the event when the arrest were made and citations given, they all said the same thing. The El Cajon Police Department, doing the job it was told to do, did it with integrity and in the spirit of King’s legacy. They were polite, social, didn’t drag away people in handcuffs and talked to the protestors with dignity. For that I commend the officers stuck in this situation and personally want to thank them for the way they handled the situation. Even though I do not agree, especially arresting and citing a 14-year-old, they did so the right way.

Now it is time for the City Council to sit down and reevaluate this ordinance and do the right thing. Trash it and start over, finding a more humanitarian way that does not infringe on the people’s rights to freedom of expression. This is the right thing to do, and perhaps, El Cajon will make it to the national headlines with something that the city can be proud of. As of now, all it brings is shame to the city and the people that lead it. 

http://www.aclusandiego.org/aclu-asks-city-el-cajon-reconsider-food-sharing-ban/

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