What happens when our basic human right to give food to each other is hijacked and made illegal by authorities? Last month, a Texas chef, Joan Cheever - who has been giving to those in need for more than 10 years - was fined $2,000. Cheever will be fighting the fine in Municipal Court on June 23, by arguing that under the 1999 Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, she has a right to serve food to the homeless because she considers it a free exercise of her religion. Prior to Joan Cheever, last November, a 90-year-old man in Florida was arrested for providing food to the homeless and faced 60 days jail time and a $500 fine.
To date, 71 cities in the U.S. have outlawed feeding the homeless and the trend is rising quickly. In 2013 and 2014, 21 cities successfully criminalized giving to the homeless. Governments are battling activists by claiming that feeding the homeless perpetuates homelessness and interferes with business, which is not substantiated by statistics showing a decrease in homelessness. What kind of a world are we creating when we allow our social policing to bypass our good nature?
(You can email Niki at nikising [at] gmail.com.)
Counter Clockwise, Comics, Police, Homeless