A ban on sleeping and serving food outdoors in Philadelphia public parks sent shockwaves throughout the community, especially among those active in efforts to feed homeless people in the city, including Occupy activists.
Occupy Philadelphia, a branch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, had made tackling homelessness a top issue, using public parks to feed long lines of the city’s homeless. The announcement by Philadelphia Governor Michael Nutter created confusion among those who say they’re volunteering time and money to help out the city’s disenfranchised.
The ban went into effect June 1. According to National Public Radio, law enforcement were instructed to hold off on enforcement until a lawsuit filed by religious organizations were heard by a judge. Yet it seems law municipal police are pushing forth with the ban, implementing it within the activist community.
At a recent Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia, activists told Mint Press they believed the ban handed down by Nutter in March was done so to break down the movement and eliminate the presence of activists helping homeless in the parks — efforts that were open for public view, particularly by tourists who travel to Philadelphia to sightsee, passing through parks along the way.
Patricia Shore, a Philadelphia Occupy activist, said she was sad to learn of the crackdown on dispersing food in public, as it had been a passion for many, including those involved with the city’s Occupy Faith movement, a network of Quaker, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist volunteers.
Occupy activists in Philadelphia had also been known to set up feeding lines for one another, allowing homeless people to join in. Occupy Philadelphia actually has a ‘food committee,’ tasked with cooking and providing the food.