Feeding the Homeless Should Not Be a Crime
A Charlotte, North Carolina, city council member’s outrageous suggestion last week that people who share food with the homeless should face criminal charges has touched a nerve in the community.
“People [are] still bringing food and money and resources directly to the folks that are out there right now,” said Charlotte City Council Member Tariq Bokhari, in remarks reported by local station WBVT. “They’re only making themselves feel good, they’re hurting the ultimate folks, perhaps we explore making that a misdemeanor.”
Bokhari says he wants residents instead to donate to charities that provide services, rather than directly to homeless people. But some of the people who work with such charities appear dumbfounded.
“In what world when we as a society are at a place where we would criminalize the act of humanity, care, and consideration and compassion for others in any way, shape, or form—there’s a huge problem,” responded Kenya Joseph, of the nonprofit Hearts for the Invisible Charlotte Coalition.
“You shouldn’t feel like ‘I’m going to go to jail because I helped someone,’ because you never know if they truly are on their last (dollar), if it’s money needed to eat,” Deborah Woolard, founder of Block Love Charlotte, told the Charlotte Observer, one of several who spoke out against Bokhari’s proposal.
With good reason. Bokhari’s cruel and oppressive suggestion would turn heroes such as ZaNia Stinson, a formerly homeless Charlotte teen who shares food with people in need in the city, into criminals.
But he’s hardly the only person who wants to arrest good Samaritans. In fact, Bokhari’s remarks came just days after a federal court in Orange County, California, ruled against an elderly man who was handcuffed, injured, and arrested while sharing food with the homeless at a state park.
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