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Groups Plan To Defy El Cajon Homeless Feeding Ban For Second Week

Demonstrators protest El Cajon's city ordinance banning people from feeding t...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Demonstrators protest El Cajon's city ordinance banning people from feeding the homeless in public spaces, Nov. 24, 2017.

For a second weekend, groups who feed the homeless are expected to defy the city of El Cajon’s ban on feeding homeless people at Wells Park.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said no one was arrested last weekend when groups defied the ban by offering meals to the homeless at the park. Another round of protests is expected Saturday.

“We’re not looking to arrest people," Wells said. "We’re not looking to make a big deal of this. We really think this is a very small situation. If people want to escalate this and make it a big deal, I guess we’re going to have to respond in kind.”

The ban was put in place in October as part of a series of emergency measures in response to an outbreak of hepatitis A in San Diego County. Wells said the ban is temporary but will last until whenever public health officials declare the outbreak is over.

Churches and pantries can still offer meals to the homeless at their locations, Wells said.

Charles Eichel with Food Not Bombs said the city is targeting the victims. There is no evidence connecting serving meals in Wells Park to the outbreak.

“We believe this ban is a violation of basic human rights," Eichel said. "We feel people have a right to eat to exist without reprisals from the state. And that a feeding ban is a pretty inhumane response to a public health crisis.”

Jessica Carpenter has been homeless for five years. She said people count on the meals.

“A lot of people come to this park, knowing there is food here," Carpenter said. "Knowing they are going to feed us. Knowing we have a meal coming. Some of us wake up and they don’t know when our next meal is coming and what it is going to be.”

Food Not Bombs is advertising it will be at Wells Park at 3 p.m. Saturday to distribute food.

A group called Food Not Bombs is planning to set up a feeding station for homeless people living in Wells Park on Saturday. Organizers say they want to call attention to a ban on feeding the homeless passed as a response to the hepatitis A outbreak.

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Steve Walsh
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