A 78-year-old woman is suing Bullhead City, Arizona, after being detained earlier this year while providing food to the area’s homeless population in a park.
The Institute for Justice wants the city ordinance that prevents Norma Thornton from feeding the hungry in a public park to be effectively overturned by a federal court. According to Thornton’s legal representatives, the ordinance infringes on a number of the woman’s 14th amendment-guaranteed civil rights.
Thornton has been going to Bullhead City Community Park for more than four years to provide hot, home-cooked meals to the area’s unhoused population congregated there. Thornton has faced homelessness and food poverty throughout her life.
When Thornton was stopped by police in March, he was taken into custody and accused of breaking a local law that forbade sharing prepared meals in a public park “for charity reasons” without a licence.
The body camera video of the woman’s arrest was made public by the Institute for Justice. In the video, a police officer is heard voice-to-voice opposing the idea of detaining the Arizona grandma.
Shortly after saying, “I think this is a PR disaster, but OK,” to his supervisor on the phone, as shown in the video, the officer arrested Thornton without putting the woman in handcuffs.
Her misdemeanor charge was later withdrawn by the prosecution, but Thornton’s legal team wants the ordinance to be completely overturned.
According to the Institute for Justice, Thornton would need to pay for a limited city permit in order to continue feeding the homeless in the city at this park in accordance with city legislation. The permit would only allow Thornton to operate for a two-hour period once each month.
In a formal reaction shared on Facebook, the city defended its policy.
by: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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