Criminal Justice

Man on Trial for Feeding Homeless

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In what may be a first-in-the-nation case, a Florida man reportedly is to go on trial today for violating an unusual Orlando ordinance that bans feeding a group of homeless persons in a public place.

The prosecution says it has videotape of Eric Montanez, 22, at an organized feeding of homeless persons at Lake Eola Park earlier this year, reports WFTV, a local station, on its Web site. And this very morning he and supporters of an organization he is involved with, Food Not Bombs, planned to kick off a three-day “ladle fest” of meal service there, at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“The law itself should be illegal. Feeding people should not be criminalized. Being poor should not be criminalized,” says Montanez.

At least one civil rights group agrees. “There are a lot better things for law enforcement to be doing in this town, but this was an outrage,” says George Crossley of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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